While on the drive to my mobile office for the morning at the lovely Panera Bread, I was embracing the Christmas season. I’ve been jamming to some great holiday music to remind me about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. It was nice. The record I was listening to? Sufjan Stevens “Songs For Christmas.” If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it, put it on repeat. It’s great.
A few songs in, a banjo comes into the picture strumming all by itself. I can tell instantly what the track is. Amazing Grace. How appropriate for the Christmas season. I’ve probably heard the song thousands of times throughout my short existence here on earth. It’s aÂ familiarÂ tune that most recognize pretty quickly. But, on this particular day, at this particular time, the song hit me fresh, new, and broke me down.
It brought me back to the moment I betrayed God and the confidence of my then girlfriend. Not waiting until I was married to give myself to my future wife. To the moment I first remember lying to my parents and while I got away with it, the pain it brought me was tremendous. The time I clearly cheated my way through many of my classes to avoid hard work in high school. The many different ways I broke rules in college not caring about the consequences. The dark hours I turned to pornography as an outlet because I was scared to death of real relationships.
The words, “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see” kept washing over me. Weeping in the car. Not very manly to most, but I firmly believe it takes a manly man to surrender and know his true place in this big world God created. I looked like I went a few rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime. As my girls would say, “I was a hot mess!”
But, the tears came from a different place than you might expect. While it daily sits in my mind that He freed me from those things above and they don’t define me, I was moved by a different line of thinking all together. You see as I listened to those words, “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see,” I thought…
“God, I Show Lack Luster Grace.”
It’s amazing grace I receive, but I’m not sure I always dispense the same quality to others. By the time it’s shown to me, processed, moves through me, and then given back out… it’s lost it’s shine. Not because of God. His grace is always amazing.
It’s because of me.
I mess it up. I misuse it. More properly, I forget to dispense it in all it’s splendor. I just screw it up. It’s then I remember that I’m found, yet fallible. I can see, yet still fall. I need to daily keep in the forefront of my mind that I mess up, I’ve messed up, and I will mess up. Not to keep it there as an excuse as to not show amazing grace, but to look at everyone I see as just as messed up, broken, and in need of that amazing grace just like me.
It’s then that the mission God sets me on gets clear. Seek and save the lost. Share love with people. Tell those far from God the story of amazing grace. When people fall, don’t hold a grudge, show grace. Amazing, unfiltered, from the end of a fire house kind of grace. Overwhelm them. Make it plain that God loves them deeply. With a love so vast they are drowning in it.
Because, the found yet fallible treat everyone with amazing grace.
Because those that can see yet fall know that the pain of the fall is enough without others dropping judgement & ridicule.
This isn’t easy. I’m much better at it now than I was years ago. But I’m far from perfect at it.
My prayer is that the church will be a place of amazing grace. That the cheater can worship joyfully next to those they cheated against. That the liar will find amazing grace from the ones they lied to. That the angry & bitter will find delight in holding hands in prayer with the ones they lashed out on. That the person who abused will find forgiveness from those they hurt. That the sinner and saint will recognize they’re both fallible and share amazing grace together so the sinner can be found. That the saint can share about how they see yet still fall, and show grace to everyone who they encounter.
Don’t miss that word… everyone.
It’s been modelled for me how to handle that amazing grace. Jesus gave it away freely.
Now go and do likewise.