Have you experienced times,
when the grace has lifted?
Consider it a rhetorical question. My guess is by the end of this post, your answer will be a resounding Yes.
PS – You’re still loved by Jesus.
There are times in life when it becomes apparent that beating a dead sheep is overkill. Conversely, long as life remains in those hoofs, grace is available. It just may not be through you.
Welcome to When the Grace Has Lifted. A post for those of us who have invested in a long-haul situation of helping others, whether in ministry, vocation, or social realms.
Walk Softly and Carry a Wet Noodle
Sometimes I marvel (in an eyeball-rolling sort of way) at the advice we Christians have doled out to one another over the centuries. Two thousand years after Christ lived, loved, and taught about His Kingdom on earth, Holy Spirit is collectively herding the sheep in from many pastures to teach us more accurately what Jesus really did.
When my husband first began counseling, he followed some ‘grace’ advice from ones in the trenches that proved over time not to be beneficial with every client. Holy Spirit came to our rescue when we asked Him, but He also set about teaching us what to do when the lake of grace was being drained and stinking like a swamp.
Understanding what grace really entails? That is worked out, dear Christian, one human interaction at a time.
Jesus understood this and moved to its rhythm set by the Spirit of Grace living within Him.
He was not a model Messiah by human standards that told Him to walk softly and carry a wet noodle. He tended to turn upside down and inside out their ways of thinking, judging, and relating. I doubt anyone told Him the definition of grace was giving everyone (with whom He came in contact) what they didn’t deserve. (And that mercy was not giving them what they did deserve). No, someone somewhere captured those two descriptions as a pithy version of grace and mercy. They do help, but also give an easy out to practice cut to the chase grace.
Until we’re in a situation of exercising extended periods of grace. For how long, Jesus?
Think of someone you know who has the patience of Job. They often have the kind of personality that would find putting in dough and cranking out noodles quite fulfilling. Especially if they had a good recipe, a pot set to boil, and a clean platter ready and waiting for the delicious finished product. (Another fitting analogy would be like a dog with a bone. Persistent and one who does not easily give up or let go). When there’s a need for a super-sized portion of grace, that’s your Jesus-person.
Challenges arise, though, when despite a considerable time investment, the grace’ee wants the grace’er to just stick with the pasta-making technique and let go of the bone already. Especially when the Jesus-person is committed to cranking out linguini truth onto the plate of a denial appetite.
If one pays attention to what’s happening, things come to a boil (if only internally); and like a pot removed from the heat, laboring over that stove has come to an end. It’s time to recognize when the grace has lifted.
Grace – Divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life*
Metaphors aside, Jesus was full of grace1. Those who embraced His divine influence upon their heart came to reflect it externally in ways that fit their met need of His grace.
Others though, no matter that Truth was sitting beside or standing right in front of them, resisted what He told them.
It’s good, dear Christian, to remember that Jesus said for our benefit, if they did it to Me, they’ll do it to you.
That’s a hard truth but with a heartening element to it. So, He epitomized for us the kind messenger we of grace aim to be and ought to be, particularly when we’re dealing with another member of the body of Christ.
However, He would not allow Himself to be relegated to a caricature of the Spirit of Grace.
He knew that to live in the Spirit, so walk in the Spirit 2 meant being congruent outwardly with Holy Spirit who governed Him inwardly. Which is precisely what Holy Spirit is teaching and re-teaching the flock today.
When the Grace Has Lifted
How do you know when the grace has lifted? Well, our flesh is good for something. It provides us with clues.
*Take your emotional temperature, again. How many times has your grace-pot reached the boiling point?
*Do a taste-test of your thoughts and words. Continually awash in vinegar? Or is some honey still present?
*Does guilt for feeling grace-less drive you back to the stove or to your knees in prayer? What’s your default?
*Are you governed more by jerks on your chain or nudges from the Spirit of Grace?
*Have you searched out in scripture for yourself how Jesus handled different people in various circumstances? (There’s a study for you; I guarantee you will find times in Jesus’ life when the grace was lifted and He let go.)
*Do you find yourself pulled between holding fast or letting go? Jesus modeled holding fast while letting go.
*Does telling someone you have nothing more or different to offer them feel like you’re failing Jesus? Or them? Or yourself?
*Have you been learning that Holy Spirit is willing and able to share holy intel with you as to what’s going on, both with them and with you? Then, how to handle it in a redemptive manner, even if you must part ways?
*Have you been learning to not only recognize, but accept when the grace has lifted?
*Are you willing to risk placing the person and situation of lifted grace in the Lord’s keeping?
He knows His purveyors of grace enough to lift it when it is no longer grace, but a burden He never asked you to carry. And He still loves you.
~ Gracefully Free
*Strong’s Concordance – definition of grace in the Greek