I was sitting at a stoplight, waiting to turn. I was in a mood, discontent, frustrated over why God is taking so long with things, and feeling like a failure for not being more patient and having more faith.
God, I wish you would just slap me. That’s what I deserve. You’re too nice and I’ve been a hot mess lately. Just yell at me, tell me how wrong I am, how I haven’t been measuring up, how my faith isn’t what it should be, how I’m horrible at waiting. That’s what I prayed as I sat at that light, fuming.
His answer? “I love you.”
Ugh! These are the times I understand grace the least. It’s such a nice, pretty word in a world where everything is going swimmingly. Everything is in its place, including my smile, and I go about my life humming and smiling at every blessing God gives.
Those are the times when I feel deserving of grace. Life is going well and I’ve got it all together, so of course God is being good to me.
(Can I hear a little cheer for works-righteousness?)
Unfortunately, for us humans who think we can earn God’s grace and goodness, having a good life now and having it all together isn’t why God is being gracious and loving. The truth is, I can’t earn God’s grace even on my best day. I can never and will never deserve such love.
And that’s what makes it grace.
Amazing grace. Unending grace. Brings me to my knees kind of grace.
It irks me so much that God is still there smiling down on me, loving me, blessing me, and holding me when I know I haven’t been at my best. I’m a rule follower, and in my mind I’ve broken the rules and haven’t performed perfectly, so I don’t deserve the reward.
The last few days I’ve been so stuck in my brain, so anxious, so into trying to solve my lack-of-a-job problem, trying to guard my heart, while still being vulnerable and open to what God’s doing. I’ve tried to have it all together. I’ve tried to be gracious with this whole idea that I might not be teaching my own class this year. I’ve tried to wait on God’s leading as to what to do next, and I’m trying to be patient in letting God lead my heart and answer those desires for Mr. Man.
And I feel like I’ve failed at every one.
Hence my stoplight-conversation and desire for God to just do something to acknowledge my failure.
Instead He gives grace:
Child, I want you to realize something. Nothing you ever do–good or bad–makes you deserving of my grace. I give it freely. Let go of the expectations you heap so heavily on your shoulders. You won’t walk through this life perfectly, according to your standards. You will stumble. You will falter in your faith. You will put other things before me. You will run ahead of my plans. But still, I love you. Always I love you. No matter what you do or where you go or what you think, I am with you always, loving you right where you are.
Yes, life is messy right now. No, you have no idea what I’m up to. But here’s a friendly reminder from your Father who loves you so very much: My plans are good. I know you don’t understand things right now, why you are in the midst of all this waiting. But trust Me, My daughter, new life is springing forth all around you and you are perceiving it. It may not look all that spectacular. It probably looks small and wimpy to your eyes, but trust me. New things are springing forth. I am making a way in the wilderness and running rivers through desert places. I am answering prayers, bringing about my will, changing hearts, and making myself known.
Let me have your mess. Let me have all those things you think you’re failing at. And don’t despise meager beginnings, dear one. I am working. I am here. Trust me. And just let go.
Oh His grace. Oh this love that changes everything. Oh the frustrating and awe-inspiring wonder of walking close with the Lord.
Even when we feel far, He is here.
Even when we think we’ve failed, His grace and love abound.
Even when we feel so undeserving, He keeps giving and keeps calling us His own.
Live in His love!