Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Step 8

When I first started out on this journey to a different life I did some silly things.  Looking back, it’s pretty obvious that I really didn’t get this whole completely forgiven and completely free thing.  I made list of all the really awful paths I had walked down and all the junk I had done to people who didn’t deserve it. 

Well, it was part of the program.  Step 8, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”  To me it was something more than that though, it was my check list.  I was determined to do equally as many good things to balance those out. 

It wasn’t really about earning God’s favor as much as it was just me feeling intensely guilty and unworthy of love from even other people because of my past.  I would do things like sabotage the good things that would come into my life because I didn’t feel like I deserved them.  The one thing I was an expert at was pushing away people who would try to get close to me, demanding over and over again to know what they wanted from me.  You didn’t think I just magically got all better as soon as I realized God loved me, right? 

No, taking in grace is and always has been a process for me.  Sometimes I think we as Christians get impatient.  We want to win people to Christ and throw our Romans road three step plan at them and expect it to change their lives.  Even within churches like mine, grace extremists, we want people to just get grace like it’s something easy to take in. 

Personally, I know I definitely get impatient, simply because I know how life changing it is and I want everyone to experience that.  I get over critical of those trapped in a system driven by doing and I forget about my lists.  I still expect people to be punished when they hurt the ones I love and forget God sees them just as perfect as he sees me. 

We all struggle with that system sometimes because, well, that’s the way of this world.  The pattern of this world is one of duty, deserving, and demanding.  You know, whenever I read in the Bible about the ways of this world or snares of this world I always thought it was those obviously bad things like sleeping around, murder, idolatry, and lying.  Those things are really just symptoms of the sickness of trying to do enough or thinking others haven’t done enough for you.  Why do you cheat on your wife?  Because she isn’t meeting your needs and fulfilling your desires.  Why kill someone?  You want something they have, they’ve wronged you, or you’re just a psychopath. 

We all operate in the system sometimes and when we find ourselves wandering down that path that is when we have all the more opportunity to take in God’s excessive grace.  The deeper we trek into the do/get system the more power grace has to free us.  It’s crazy how it works that way!  So now I make different lists, ones that help me know when I’m going down that road of do/get, not check lists to make sure I’m doing all that’s demanded of me. 

Here is my list of hazard signs on the road of do to get:
  • I believe God is angry/sad at me when I mess up
  • I am constantly comparing myself to others
  • I am afraid to be honest with those around me because they may think less of me
  • I expect things back from others when I do good things for them- this can even be as innocent as expecting a thank you for a gift or kindness when I forgive a hurt
  • I feel wronged if others don’t work as hard as I am
  • I am driven by and control other around me with guilt
  • I feel the need to constantly point out to others how they need to improve
  • I am easy to anger and slow to forgive

Those are ones for me that tend to creep in faster than others.  As great as this list is to help remind me to watch out for those things I have one other list that brings much more power into my life. One that fills me with peace and joy every time I read it, which is quite often.  Are you in suspense yet?

Ok, well here it is, my list of the things I am confident in because of grace:
  • Worldly consequences are not a result of God’s punishment
  • I am loved in the midst of my failures
  • My relationship with God is at odds only in my mind and not through his eyes
  • I don’t have to live in fear EVER AGAIN
  • I am not defined by my past
  • God’s full blessing is mine even when I’m living in sin

That list is the one that changes me.  It makes me passionate for God, hungry to learn more, and anxious to let it flow out of me.  That list is slowly making the previous one insignificant.  I am more confident in grace than I have been in anything ever before.  This is my step 8 in the grace program.  

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