Forget the Insurance – I Need Grace

A friend shared with me about a car accident in which his teenage son was recently involved. The unique thing about this accident is that it occurred immediately following the vehicle purchase and happened a mere three miles from the sales lot. I doubt if the engine even had time to warm itself. Thankfully, there were no injuries sustained by the people involved – which is more than can be said for the now newly-totaled vehicle.

Another interesting thing about this happening is that right before my friend’s son pulled out of the lot, his father warned him about the propensity of this particular vehicle to “handle in rain like other vehicles handle on ice.” The father’s warnings were listened to halfheartedly as the son interrupted the warnings with an exasperated, I know, Dad. I know.

Unfortunately, his knowing and his reacting to what he supposedly “knew” were on two different levels. Later, when he was describing the accident to his dad, he actually (and most likely, unthinkingly) restated his father’s warnings when he declared, “It was like the car was on ice!”

The father couldn’t help but point out that this was precisely what he had been attempting to warn his son about in the first place. But because the son was only half-listening, the warning went unheeded. Instead of taking his father’s advice into account, the son failed to maintain proper assured clear distance from the vehicle slowing in front of him as his new car slid out of control on a wet road.

The whole scenario reminds me of how quickly my own life careens out of control when I fail to heed my heavenly Father’s warnings. Thinking that I already “know” the risks involved, like an excited teenager, I halfheartedly listen to the counsel of the One who has only my good in mind. Instead of granting God my full attention, I listen with half an ear while my thoughts are already revving the engine of my new sports car and pulling out of the lot. Not once do I stop to consider that I could be among the statistics of a spiritual accident in the making.

After all, warnings are meant for careless people. Signs are posted for those who do not know the way.  I know the commandments. I know that I’m called to love… warned to practice patience… to think on things that are pure and honorable… advised to flee even the very appearance of evil… I  know, Dad. I know.

And God watches me pull away, knowing full-well that I have no intention of following His advice. By not listening, I am proving that it is only a matter of time before the unthinkable happens. Only a matter of miles before I will slide into temptation. Only a few more moments before I surrender my rights to the kingdom and fall into the first trap that is laid to ensnare me.

Could it be that 1 Corinthians 10:12 was placed in the Bible expressly for people like me?
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

All too often, I forget that my enemy is very real. I neglect to remember that Satan hates those whom the Father loves. That nothing brings him greater pleasure than setting me up for an accident even as he seeks to steal, to kill, and to destroy all that God deems as precious. Instead of contemplating the warnings to proceed with caution, I gun it through the yellow light as I speed to experience the fullness of a life that, much too quickly, becomes a blur. A life that, in the blink of an eye, slips out of control like a Ford Mustang on slick roads.

Thankfully, my Father God provides the very best form of insurance known to man. And even when my life seems to be a totaled wreck, He is able to repair and restore all the broken pieces. For God’s policy begins and ends with grace.

Grace to continue to speak warnings to a heart that is, more often than not, anything but attentive. Grace to hand me the keys to a kingdom far more valuable than any automobile. Grace that covers me against the liability of hell. Grace to entrust me with His love, knowing all along that I will sometimes fling it into the gutters of life. Grace to reach out, time after time, and come to my rescue.

Because, despite His warnings to “live carefully,” my Father knows that I will most likely become involved in an accident in the near future.

Thankfully, His grace will still be there to offer the way of escape… again.

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Nothing on Earth Beside

He emptied my hands of my treasured store,

And His covenant love revealed.

There was not a wound in my aching heart
The balm of His breath has not healed.
Oh, tender and true was His discipline sore,

In wisdom that taught and tried,
Till the soul that He sought was trusting in Him,
And nothing on earth beside.
(from Streams in the Desert)

Father, I thank You that You continue to pursue me, coming to my rescue again and again, until I am trusting in You alone. Left unattended and untried, I have proven that I quickly run wild. Banished to my own wants and desires, I become a boastful and selfish mess – not to mention, one that errs continually.

In Your perfect wisdom and love, You pry my hands – often finger by finger – from the idols I have intentionally, and sometimes unwittingly, grasped throughout the years.
The longing for material things – in order to serve You better, of course.
Ministry opportunities that were more to fill a void in my own heart than to honor You.
Idols of self-righteousness as I deemed my own struggles as somehow less than the seemingly glaring trials of others.
Performance-based works to seek Your approval, while failing to realize that I had it all along.
Attitudes and  selfish motives became crafted idols to which I clung as surely as if they were pagan images of stone and wood.
My treasured stores of self-worth and self-promotion –  all became as dust beneath Your feet when Your covenant love was revealed.

Your gentleness continually compels me to be awestruck in Your dealings with me. Occasionally, with indignant, holy anger, You tear the poisonous apple from my hands and fling it far from me. But more often, it is Your kindness that woos my heart, calling me to return to Your side. It is the gentle caress of Your Spirit’s breath to which I find myself responding. It is Your healing touch of love that tugs my heart toward life while opening my eyes to see the death with which I have surrounded myself.

Thank You for Your covenant love, Lord. For caring for me enough to patiently come to my rescue time and again. There has never been a moment when Your faithfulness toward me has wavered. Never a time when Your hand was shortened to save me. Not once did Your compassion wane – even when I played the harlot, casting Your favor behind my back and placing myself at the disposal of other gods.

Please continue to come to me, Father. Pierce my heart with Your truths and enlighten my eyes to see clearly. Do what You must until this soul that You seek is trusting in You… and nothing on earth beside.

Kept

I rest in a keeping not my own…

As I read the above line in a random book of poetry, the warmth of its truth nestled into my heart. I am so thankful to rest in a keeping that is not my own. To trust in a Strength that far exceeds the restricting confines of mere human power. To know I have a Father who embraces both the terrible and the beautiful things in my life.

Although I am not promised an easy and carefree path, I am promised God’s presence through it all. And that is more than I need. Much more than I deserve. By faith, I live with the knowledge that My Father is the Keeper of the beautiful, even amidst the ugliness of life. Uniting beauty and sorrow, He collects His children’s tears and transforms them into a fragrant incense. Bringing life from ashes, His breath stirs the smoldering embers of offerings that have all but taken the lives of their bearers. Granting unlimited mercy, He heals those whose hearts have been paralyzed by grief and draws them into a dance with the joyful. And to every freedom seeker, He offers the amazing gift of His glorious presence, continually gracing lives with the assurance of being kept.

Truly, I rest in a keeping not my own. And it is here I find that I am learning to embrace mercy even as it embraces me. Bit by bit, I’m understanding the realness of being infinitely valued by the One who is infinitely timeless… and it is changing me. Changing me so I can not only believe the value of truth, but I can accept it as truth for me. And I rest in the assurance that, regardless of the twists and turns this path of life may take, I am forever in His keeping.

Kept
…and You knew me before I was
… and You sought me in the darkness
… and You found me when I could not find myself
… and You held me like a secret
… and You whispered by Your Spirit that You kept me
for this moment and beyond.
(from Scrapbooking Your Faith)