Monday, October 14, 2013

Thirty-One Years of Grace

Beauty in the night air and the wind is scented with the perfume of leaves. Wind of the heavens, the stars fall in place and the sky is a shadow of memories. Thirty-one years ago, my advent into this racing world, and a new life cries into the day in the season of dying. Winter is coming, the death of creation, the seed fallen into the yielding ground of hope that will harden more and more as the days grow longer.

A Life gave life and my Mother holds me, after a difficult delivery. The 13th of October and superstitious, well-meaning people will forever kid me about it, especially when it falls on a Friday. But my Mama isn’t superstitious and she holds me and she rocks me and she draws me to herself; life to life, breath to breath, warmth to warmth and the sweet surrender of pain that makes way for a new baby to be born into the world, His world.

This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought . . . His world, though evil darkens over it and the Prince of the power of the air looms like the great eye over Mordor. The shadow deepens and men shrink for fear of the night.

But I need not fear . . . He who spared my Mama after she delivered me, after she woke covered with blood in the middle of the night and was rushed to the hospital. She woke up later and the doctor patted her on the hand and said it would be alright. A massive hemorrhage and a long healing, but the Lord was yet gracious and brought her back to us, though it took her months to recover.

She couldn’t breastfeed me; her body was too weak, so she held me against her skin whenever she gave me a bottle. She did all that was humanly possible and then the Lord gave His grace through her weakness. The Lord is gracious and compassionate . . .

Thirty-one years of His grace and I look back upon them with the soberness of knowing that “you can’t go back,” but with the hope of His mercies that are new every morning. Like the lovely, clear dew on the Autumn roses, still hanging onto life, His mercies come. And I am the bee that tries to gather all the nectar I can before this life is over, clinging to the flower of grace.

I haven’t done things perfectly; I grieve over the areas where I “have not His commandments kept,” where I have shirked my duty and taken the easy, wide road. It is right to grieve and there is a time for grief. A movement among believers says, “Don’t look back on your past; it’s covered by the blood.” And there is truth in that, but there is also a time for repentance and grief over sin, before a follower of the Alpha and the Omega can walk on with confidence. When we were children and we wanted to avoid punishment we would say, “I’m sorry,” really just to get off the hook. My Mom’s answer to this kind of “sorrow” was always “Sorry means changing.” As Christians we often want the forgiveness of the Father without the accompanying change that needs to take place in our hearts. We want, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls it, “cheap grace,” the grace that has no cost attached to it.

But I want costly grace in my life, the grace that moves and turns and bends and binds me to the will of the Father. I want to want that kind of grace. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak . . . Strengthen me by Your power, Lord Jesus . . . like Patrick, I “bind myself to Thee.”

Thirty-one years . . . and there is mercy stretching before me and ever His chesed, His lovingkindness. I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my cry for mercy. He hears, He is the God who hears, the God of Abraham and Gideon and David and the beautiful, rugged saints of the New Testament who “suffered the loss of all things,” so that they might gain Christ and be counted worthy.

Worthy . . . He is worthy . . . worthy of honor and glory and blessing, worthy of all praise, the praise of my lips and my life and these thirty-one years of grace.

All praise we would render , Lord help us to see, tis’ only the splendor of light hideth Thee.

He touches and a life springs forth, the deer of the forest gives birth; He speaks again and all things die and give way to the word of His mouth. All flesh is like the grass and like the flower that withers. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the Word of the Lord endures forever.

Photo credit: <a href="">Ian Sane</a> / <a href="">Foter</a> / <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)</a>

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