Ever have one of those days (or longer!) when you just can’t seem to get it right? Those times when all your buttons are pushed and all your “stuff” just seems to be oozing out all over the place for the entire world to see?
If we’re honest, we all have those times. The results may look different on different people, but everyone misses the mark. We all fall short. We all fail. Whether it is as small as a barely perceptible attitude that isn’t kept in check, or as large as falling into some grievous sin—we all need grace. And the amazing thing about God’s grace is that it never fails. It is always available and it always sufficient. We just need to lay hold of it.
I’ve been in one of those seasons where I’ve needed to cling to grace with every fiber of my being. Circumstances have been difficult in many areas of life—to quote the Apostle Paul, I’ve felt “hard pressed on all sides”—but I don’t want to make excuses for my failings. Frankly, there aren’t any. I am absolutely responsible for my attitudes, actions and choices. To clarify, I’m not responsible for the “flaming arrows” the enemy throws at me—and trust me, lately I feel like I’m in the middle of a firestorm!—but I am responsible for what I let in. The grace that forgives me is also sufficient to overcome. But I need to lay hold of it.
And that is the battle. We don’t have to beg or plead for grace—he has already supplied it. He has already declared it to be sufficient. It is already ours through faith. But we need to lay hold of it.
I am so grateful for such an awesome example of grace in the life of David. Though David’s list of sins and failures (while walking in relationship with God, I might add) is longer and more intense than anything most of us will ever experience, David somehow managed to tap into a reality of God’s grace and love that was foreign to just about everyone else living under the Old Covenant. In fact, I would go so far as to say David actually had a New Covenant revelation of God’s grace. As if to underscore this fact, David was the only one throughout the entire Old Testament who ever uttered the words, “I love you, Lord!” I can’t help but believe it was David’s heart revelation of God’s character that—despite the many *ahem* lapses in David’s own character—caused God to call him the man after his own heart.
Believe me, I am not advocating large mess ups as a way to experience the depths of God’s grace. Neither did Paul when he addressed this topic in his letter to the Romans (see Rom.6:1). There are consequences for our actions and David paid a heavy price for many of his. While God, in his mercy, may choose to deliver us from the consequences (or at least the full consequences) of many of our actions, he is under no obligation to do so. But that isn’t the point. The point is this—our mistakes never need to keep us from God’s grace. We just need to lay hold of it. Intimacy with God never has been, and never will be, based on performance. Never. Ever.
The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). He never changes his mind about us. Before he ever called my name he knew every single bone-headed thing I’d ever do and he called me anyway. Men may disqualify me based on how they perceive my actions, but he never disqualifies me. He will always use me right where I am at—the second I turn to him and lay hold of grace.
Long ago I realized that the single greatest revelation I have apprehended in my relationship with Jesus, is the deep and abiding knowledge of an unconditional love that beckons me to run to him in my weaknesses and failures, rather than away from him in shame and regret. Sometimes it takes me awhile to forgive myself for my foolishness, but he never keeps me at arms distance until I get my act together. He is never—yes, that’s right, I said never—“grieved” or even disappointed by my failures. In fact, often the things I see as failures, he simply sees as progress. He has already paid the price for my all my fallibility—it is finished!!! To be disappointed in me, he would have to be surprised. He’s not. If he is saddened, it is because of the effect poor choices have on me and those around me. He is saddened when I settle for being less than all he created me to be. And he is saddened when I suffer needlessly by failing to lay hold of what it cost him so dearly to purchase.
I am convinced that when he looks at me—most of the time—he is not even remotely sad, but rather very, very glad. Even when I have acted like a complete fool! When I have had “one of those days”—or even much worse—if I run back into the arms of grace he simply uses those times as building blocks to teach me to grow in the knowledge of him. He uses those times to teach me to lay hold of grace.
Like David, I’m after his heart. I’m after him. Hell hates that. The flaming arrows will come. Some of them will hit. Sometimes I won’t respond well. Sometimes I’ll blow it. Sometimes I may even blow it badly. But I’m laying hold of grace.
And he’s glad.