accepting my humanity, accepting grace

This morning as we were leaving for church, I lost my patience with River. When I had dropped the kids off at their classrooms and was standing there during the worship, I kept thinking of how silly and embarrassing it felt to be in church after being so un-Christlike to my little boy just moments before. How could I change my heart in an instant, ask for forgiveness, and go on like everything was fine? I didn't want to pretend. So I just listened to the music a bit and let God speak to my heart. I think he reveals himself a lot through worship.

The lyrics we were singing were from Chris Tomlin's song Greater: "Our God is greater, our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power."

Then slowly, these verses came to mind. I've known them since childhood; I wasn't exactly sure where they were in the Bible but I looked them up when I got home (thanks Google).

1 Corinthians 15:58 Be firm, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing and being continually aware that your labor isn't going to be for nothing in the Lord."
Isaiah 64:6 "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags."
2 Corinthians 11:30 "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
Romans 5:6 "While we were still weak, Christ died for us."
It all spun together so perfectly, weaving in and out of my head, with the lyrics of the song. Not actual words, just thoughts -- encouraging thoughts and feelings of God's grace. I'll try to write out what I understood, but I'm sorry if it sounds jumbled. My hands are slow, and my brain is jumpy.

God is greater.

He is greater than my sin and my failures. I will always be full of sin and imperfections, and no matter how hard I try to "be good" or "do better," it won't be enough, because God is perfect and holy and I am unworthy.

So... it doesn't matter if I've come from just yelling at my kids or if I've just had a Best Mom Ever moment -- I will never be holy enough to be worthy of being in his presence. I am tainted by sin.

BUT... God's grace CRUSHES that. God's grace is greater. God's love is stronger.

My sin, my imperfection... it can never be stronger than the grace of God.

That doesn't mean that I give up. That I do whatever and throw my hands in the air and say, "Well, I'll never be up to par and I've grace has my back anyway." That's not exactly loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind.

The wonderful thing is that when I move in a Christlike way, when I try to live in a way that is pleasing to him -- for instance, speaking with love and kindness to my kid in the midst of frustration -- when I choose love, I am drawn closer to him. I am more in line with his will. I am more in tune to his Spirit. Because God is love.

As God works through us, the "muscle" of spirituality is strengthened, and he gives us strength to continue to choose love. And through love, we choose obedience to him.

But because we are imperfect and will never be worthy of him, it is not our place to boast in our obedience. It is his grace that allows this love/relationship/healing/beautifying to happen because he is greater and stronger than our sin.

Boasting would be silly, because as good as we think we are, we'll still never be good enough!

Yet, when God created us, he said, "It is good." There is goodness in us, and because he sees this goodness, loves us, and gives us grace, we should see goodness in ourselves.

This is where our hope lies. Knowing we'll never reach that level of perfection and accepting that THAT'S OKAY. Since we can't be "good enough," and we can't boast in our obedience, well then, we can't be in "holy competition" with one another. We just try our best, choose love, fall more in communion with God, accept his grace by shaking the dirt off when we fall and trying again, and knowing all the while that God sees our hearts. Which is the hope. He sees our hearts.

It all makes so much sense. We can't be good enough, so good enough doesn't exist for us here on earth. But God yearns for our hearts. He loves us so passionately, with a love greater than the Mama Bear love you have for your babies. Your children can't earn your love -- they simply have your love.

I accept. I accept this grace! I choose this love. How extraordinary to be in line with Christ, with each loving, Christlike choice I make! I hope I get to the point someday where I feel I am truly in line with his Spirit. I understand I'll always struggle, I'll always make choices out of sin and selfishness, but the thought that by choosing love brings me closer to Christ is... exhilarating!

I'm not a theologian. I have no idea how theologically sound this is. I think God meets us in all areas of our life. My personal theology, your personal theology -- it's not gospel. But I believe God brought something that I needed to my attention this morning.

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