aleph: the beauty of grace

"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who keep His statutes
and seek Him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong;
they walk in His ways.
You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying Your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all Your commands.
I will praise You with an upright heart
as I learn Your righteous laws.
I will obey Your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me."
- Psalm 119:1-8

If you want to be blessed, be blameless.

That can feel like such a tall order sometimes, can't it? Particularly for those of us (yes, my hand is quite sheepishly still in the air on this one) who are perfectionists, who "must" get it right...

Oh, but grace! :) And these verses from Ephesians: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing that is in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the one He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, according to the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." - Ephesians 1:3-8

I love the language in that last verse - the word picture of grace being lavished on us. It feels so luxurious - like you can just go roll around in it, and it's this strange (in a foreign-to-you way, not in a weird way), exotic thing, and someone just brought it all away across the world just for you, and there's so much of it you don't know what to do with it.... and there's a very real sense in which that's actually true! Grace is abundant. God has treasure houses jam packed with it, that He simply pours out on His children, whom He knew ("with all wisdom and understanding") would need it. And because of that grace - once we have rolled around in it and come up simply dripping in it - we are holy and blameless. Something happens when you put on grace - it's like dressing up in a costume and becoming a fairy princess or a knight of the Round Table - except when you've dressed in grace you actually do become a new person. The person you were created to be. And words that describe you now are "holy," "blameless," "blessed."

In spite of the fact that you just totally screwed it all up five minutes ago, this is actually true of you. And oh, yes, there's still the question of repentance and sanctification - you need all that too - but if you are a follower of Jesus, you are as much in the reality of being holy and blameless in God's sight as you are in the reality of growing towards it. It's mind-boggling, isn't it? :) But such is the mystery of grace. Oh! If we only understood this sometimes - how much more grace would we be able to give ourselves?

"Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying Your decrees..."

I find myself praying that as I read it.

" not utterly forsake me."

That jumped out at me when I read it. We are not dependent on "works righteousness" - following a legal code in order to earn God's favor - our righteousness comes by grace, and grace alone. "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 1: 8-9) So the connection between, "I'll obey your decrees" and "do not forsake me" struck me as something that didn't quite follow at first... and what David meant as he prayed it I don't really know, but I know that when I chose to walk in God's ways and do what He says (even in the moments when a lot of the currently-less-sanctified part of my nature would like to do quite otherwise), I do it because I love Him. And when I find myself praying anything along the lines of "do not forsake me," it is simply because I know that on so many levels I would deserve that, were it not for the grace of the Lord Jesus.

But I want Him to stay, because I love Him. I want "to do better" - not because it would earn His relationship, but because it would please Him. Because I love Him, and I want Him to be happy - and because I recognize the truth that when I walk in His ways - when I live my life His way and not my own, often-foolish way - I truly am blessed. And when I pray, "do not forsake me" - as a child of God, I can know that His answer to that is always, "I will not." In so many ways, that prayer is simply an invitation for Him to remind me of His promise: "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5)

I love the way the Message begins this psalm:

"You're blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You're blessed when you follow His directions,
doing Your best to find Him." - Psalm 119:1-2

Whatever life holds for you today, I pray that you'll be blessed, my friends.

1 comment:

Cathy H said...