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  • Writer's pictureJenni

Grace To You

Grace To You.

This sounds like one of those familiar greetings in the letters Paul wrote to churches, all that grace and peace stuff.

But they are not niceties, they are realities, necessary for living real.

One of the facts about life is that we all wrestle with darkness and harbour demons in the dark alleys. I have seen the darkness in my soul, and many have confessed theirs to me, a range that spans -

Yelling at kids?

Thinking of divorce?

Entertaining hurtful thoughts?



Ego trips?

Seized by discontent?

Poor stewardship?

Lack of love?

What if i try out...?

Yup, been there, been that.

What happens after this revelation of darkness?

Typically, we either reach for

HyperGrace - it's no big deal, or we collapse into

UnderGrace - we are wrecked with guilt and try our best to cover it all up.

I use these monikers to represent the two common ways we respond to glimpses of what lurks beneath our respectable, put-together selves.

In HyperGrace, we may -

. brush it off as not really so serious compared with...

. create a spiritual scorecard by pumping up more rigour for spiritual activities (from dancing to Bible studies).

On the other end, some of us veer towards UnderGrace where we –

. smile and act nice, totally inconsistent with what's tugging at our hearts

. blame others or beat up ourselves for not measuring up

. endlessly analyse what went wrong

This happens to the individual, and even to groups and entire systems.

Neither of these is truly the Grace of God, what we really need to really live. I call this Transforming Grace, the work of God in our lives that enables us to face the darkness, bring it into the light and watch it vanquished. This is the grace that we want to send out as heartfelt greetings.

“…. clothe yourself with humility toward one another,

for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,

that He may exalt you at the proper time,

casting all your anxiety upon Him, because he cares for you.

~ 1 Peter 5v5-7

Peter wrote this. I dare say no one knows about Grace and humility the way Peter does.

He was the blustering disciple who boasted of his loyalty only to find it crumble when faced with the threat of persecution. To add to his failure, Peter goes back to his previous job as a fisherman and caught absolutely nothing!

His Lord and Saviour chose not to give up on him, but instead restores him by giving him Grace.

Peter tasted Grace that morning when his professional fishing efforts yielded no gains, but he was served fish on live coals for breakfast. He tasted Grace when Jesus recreated the memory of his calling {read this in John 21}. He tasted Grace when Jesus refused to skirt around the issue but asks him about it point blank, giving him a chance to respond.

He humbled himself in admission of his shadows and failures and was reunited with His Lord in love and mission.

This is Grace at work, transforming us from cowardice and weakness to courage and winnowed conviction.

The records tell us that Peter would continue to struggle, as will all of us. And the Grace will continue to flow as long as we humble ourselves, in the knowledge of what darkness we are capable of.

Instead of being anxious about whether we can hold steady, Peter urges us, to cast our anxieties on God.

We are anxious whenever we don't know the outcomes to things or when we anticipate a negative result. But Peter, he has learnt that. All his bravado cannot gainsay the truth that he has limits and he cannot really fix some things, even if he can swing a sword the way he can throw a net.

Transforming Grace - that flows downward to the bowed and receptive heart - happens when we humbly agree with God that we don't have the answer but we know God does.

I love Danielle Strickland's definition of humility:

agreeing with God about who you are.

Mind you, God does not think small of us. No, he thinks wonderful thoughts beyond our wildest dreams. Yet, he remembers and knows we are dust. We are finite. We do well to remember that of ourselves and others. That's when Grace happens. Peter tells us that God's intent is to exalt us. God knows we cannot reach the heights of who we truly are unless He raises us up.

The verses have another dimension:

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, .....

I admit that this is the bit most of us don't really like. After all, whether it's our families or work or churches, we all know elders and leaders whom we struggle to respect and follow. But here, Peter reminds us that there is the basic posture of being submissive that counts if we want to experience Grace.

To live with authenticity requires us to be real about who we are. This calls for humility, and when we are humble, there is a flow of God's Grace into our lives and situations.

Grace transforms life into Life as it calls forth courage, builds community and develops maturity.

In reckoning with my personal darkness, two things have happened. One, I am much less shocked by confessions. Second, I have begun to strip away at the notion of 'the other'. I identify with others more than I differentiate from them.

An awareness and acknowledgement of weakness is the true ground for empathy.

As we kneel with the broken, sobbing alongside, hurting with them, remembering this could just as well be us, Grace flows in and creates community.

The authenticity and vulnerability needed to face our fears and name our anxieties is a movement of Grace that calls forth courage in its wake.

When we will call out our tendency to hide, gloss over and conceal, Grace flows in . and maturity fruits.

These three are thus good indicators of the present workings of Grace in our lives: community, courage and maturity, and signs that we are entering the territory called Life.

Outside of it, we will see a lack of maturity in reckless self disclosure without regard for others. Or witness a lack of courage where there are endless discussions without actions. Or groups that meet and meet where deepest concerns are never shared or heard.

Grace to you.


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