Grace Upon Grace

Rob Bell in is book, “What We Talk About When We Talk About God” says, that the “Gospel is the shocking, provocative, revolutionary, subversive, counterintuitive good news that in your moments of greatest despair, failure, sin, weakness, losing, failing, frustration, inability, helplessness, wandering, and falling short, God meets you there— right there— right exactly there— in that place and announces, I am on your side. Gospel insists that God doesn’t wait for us to get ourselves polished, shined, proper, and without blemish. God comes to us and meets us and blesses us while we are still in the middle of the mess we created. Gospel isn’t us getting it together so that we can have God’s favor; gospel is us finding God exactly in the moment of our greatest not-togetherness. Gospel is grace, and grace is a gift. You don’t earn a gift; you simply receive it.”

In these past weeks we have been watching the incredible rescue of Thai children trapped in a cave with their coach. The more we learned, the more impossible the rescue seemed. Each passing day we heard of more complications . . . Waters rising, monsoon rains coming, oxygen levels depleting and children who couldn’t swim.   There were miles of cave and obstacles everywhere. Hundreds of people flew to Thailand. Divers from around the world joined Thailand’s Navy SEALS. Pumps to drain the cave arrived from other countries. Thousands of people were part of the overall volunteer effort.

Planning the logistics of bringing the boys out took the best minds in the  World. If we had somehow missed the danger, it was clear when one of  Thailand’s Navy Seals died in the cave.  A few days later we witnessed this amazing rescue take place, with odds so clearly stacked against them.

When I look back on this, I believe that what we were seeing in efforts, concern and persistence, is the kind of love God loves each of us with. When we find ourselves trapped in messes.  When we despair at ourselves, feel defeated, misunderstood or our sense of failing is so complete we doubt God’s love. This is the time that God rushes in with compassion, concern, loving care – reminding us that we are a work in progress. We are in the process of becoming, not finished products as Christians. God tells us that we are even worth giving up a life to reach us.

In those moments we find ourselves in dark messes and muddles, whether of our own making or someone else’s . . . Feeling ourselves submerged by forces that call into question our worth and value and the way out threatens our well being . . .  our courage is faltering and  our wisdom lacking . . . God is there.   God is there  to thread us through the obstacles, guiding us both ahead and behind. Then in our vulnerabilities, God wraps us in a cocoon of love. Teaching us all over again that we are loved. Loved not for our successes in life, nor because we are perfect, never fail or make mistakes. But simply because we are one of God’s beloved children, who in God’s sight is precious.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”  John 3:16-17NRSV

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