April 13, 2008

The Strength of Humans and the Terrible Grace of God

I am constantly amazed at what humans can withstand. I'm not even talking about people in Africa who've had their entire families destroyed. That's too big for me to even think about. I'm talking about people we go to church with and pass on the street. The amount of pain that some of these people have gone through is enough to make you ill just thinking about it. Going through it...some of these people I can't even imagine how they are walking around right now. I thought I'd been through some pain. Well, I have been through some painful stuff. But...pain on that level. I don't know what I want to say about this really. People hurting though. It's really scary. Think about. As a Christian I have to say that God loves this hurting person just as much as He loves me, and there is nothing standing between me and pain like that than God's mysterious will. I'm not here because I'm better. She's not there because God loves her less. If God wanted it, I could be in her shoes next week or next year. I haven't earned any exemptions from pain any more than anyone else has earned their pain. That is the terrible grace of God, and honestly, but for the grace of God I don't see how any of us could withstand His grace. God is good, but He is not always gentle. It's hard learning about both of these. When we're mad at God we want Him to be a monster so we can feel justified in hating Him. We don't want to say "I hate you" and hear in return "I love more than my own life. I will never leave you. I am constantly seeking you own best." What do you do when the one you want to hate most refused to play your games with you? If Allen is any indication...eventually you fall in love. Allen has taught me more about God's love than any person alive today. When I was screaming mad, hating myself and him too, he just held me and loved me until I pretty much gave up. It's really hard to hate in a perpetual onslaught of love. Of course sometimes the love makes it harder. Once we really come to terms with God's love we break our hearts again that a loving father has hurt us so badly. We want to run and hide until our father makes the pain go away, but our only refuge is in the loving arms through which all our deepest sorrows come. I really don't know how we do it. I certainly don't have enough faith to bless God in my darkest hours. That's something He'll have to do in me if He wants to hear it. I'm not being rebellious or flippant here. It's really something I don't think I have the strength to do apart from His grace. I suppose it's times like these when heaven seems only too far away. I suppose life is sort of like skinning your knee at the end of the driveway and waiting for your dad to come pick you up and carry you into where everything will be made better with Snoopy bandaids and fresh lemonaid. Life isn't just that, but I don't think it's less than that. All of us wounded and waiting for the place where all our tears will be washed away forever by Christ's love. It's like that hymn we sing at church:

1. Ten thousand times ten thousand,
In sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints
Throng up the steeps of light.
'Tis finished, all is finished,
Their fight with death and sin;
Fling open wide the golden gates
And let the victors in.

2. What rush of alleluias
Fills all the earth and sky!
What ringing of a thousand harps
Proclaims the triumph nigh!
O day, for which creation
And all its tribes were made;
O joy, for all its former woes
A thousandfold repaid!

3. Oh, then what raptured greetings
On Canaan's happy shore;
What knitting severed friendships up
Where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle
That brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless
Nor widows desolate.

Someday we will arrive inside the terrible grace of God and find nothing to fear -only grace and love.

Btw, Dad, if you're out there somewhere. I miss you.

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