There is nothing that shows me God’s grace more that old reformed hymns. “Jesus Lover of My Soul” “Friend of Sinners” “Pensive Doubting Fearful Heart“. I love how they shows my need for grace as it reveals the sin in my heart. They reveal my incapability to do any good on my own, and reminds me to whom it is that I belong.
I was part of a group in college that took a spiritual gifts test before we left to travel in a van together for the summer. We learned not only how our gifts manifest themselves, but also the misuses of the gifts. What was so remarkable about doing this study together is that when we saw a misuse of a gift, it allowed us to give more grace to the person. Not that their sin was any less of a sin, but it helped us understand where that person was coming from. This intense study in my Spiritual Ministry Formation class has done the same for me here at Covenant Seminary. In my understanding of how introverts and extroverts work, and how those who perceive versus those who judge think and work, it gives me a glimpse into the person’s mind and heart, as well as into the mind and heart of Christ.
And I am seeing that grace return to me ten-fold.
I was in Chicago last weekend for a church planting trip, where I spent hours in my car with three virtual strangers that of course, by the end of the trip, weren’t strangers at all. We talked and talked about personality types and ministry and grace, and when I got home Sunday I just marveled at what I am seeing here over and over again: gracious hearts.
I am a perfectionist. And I’m really, really hard on myself. This is where my performance-driven life post comes into play, to give you context for just how overwhelmed I am feeling in this present where I stand. I live in a house with 5 girls, all very different and very much the same as me. I am working at a 2000+ church where the women I serve have very different lives than me. I came from a life where I was expected to performed on a regular basis, and perform flawlessly. The color on the cover of the catalog must be the right shade of grey, the photo of that kitchen must be altered to work just right for the application, the worship set must be so tight that everyone is engaged completely. And all the while I must do it with a freakin’ big smile on my face like nothing is wrong.
I was so busy performing, and rarely receiving grace from anyone that I never gave grace to anyone. My heart was so wrapped up in getting it right that when others didn’t I had no patience. “If I can do it, why can’t they?”
And now, God is turning that upside-down. Because to live your life in grace is to live a life free from expectations. And that is what so often traps and imprisons us from not only enjoying life and being happy, but to being the person God created you to be in the first place. I was created to be a child of God, no longer enslaved to sin but set free in Christ, who loves me no matter now many times I don’t perform.
Before the throne of God above I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven, He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased with His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God