Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Balancing Truth and Grace

Recently I heard truth and grace explained this way.  Truth alone is legalism and grace alone is lawlessness.  I can't get this analogy out of my head.  Perhaps God is speaking to me?  As I face situations in each day as a disciple, wife, mother, friend etc. I am astonished at the opportunities that come up for me to practice truth and grace.  What is alarming is the times I automatically respond to situations without balance.
 I tend to lean to the side of truth.  I love truth the way it cuts through the chaotic confusion of emotions and worldly opinions.  I love that I can pick up the Bible and know truth, that I can pray and hear truth.  Truth is a beautiful boundary, solid, unmoving, unchangeable, like my God.  In my life it is so easy to concoct a rule and adhere to that than to have to patiently, gently, mercifully and graciously extend myself in times of trial.  Whether the trial be large or small I always tend to go for a rule, for a truth and stick to it.  This trait of mine has it's merits, but I believe the Lord is trying to increase the merits of it's counter balance, grace, in my life.  Grace is the example that Jesus gave us on the cross.  Grace is the tenderness that extends love when wrath is deserved.  Grace is the beauty of trial and the triumph of love.  If I adhere to the rules so closely I lose the opportunity to extend grace, to be truly alive in Christ.  The truth I love so dearly if not properly balanced will lead me down the same road as the Pharisees.  I too will miss the grace of a saviour.
Coming to this information has been thought provoking to say the least.  All the times I want to create a new rule to keep my little women in line I have now stopped to wonder if perhaps it is not a rule they need but a bit of grace and someone to help them sort out their heart's intentions.  As my husband makes decisions and my foolish independence seek to cram a rule in his face to prove I am right I have been convicted that it is grace that is needed not more of my truth.  Maybe that is where the crux of the problem is, that truth when it becomes our truth instead of His truth is dangerously out of balance. 
What about when grace is too heavily weighted.  Is that when I allow what I know I should be dealing with.  When I hear the children bickering but get a little lazy and let it go?  Is it when I choose to not be disciplined and sleep a little more, or do a little less and suddenly things are not going as smoothly as they should be?  I confess this is not generally my trial, but I have made friends with lawlessness and the results are not desired.
Either end of the extreme leaves something in want.  The best way is to live in balance.  To cry out to the Holy Spirit to speak to us so clearly each moment of the day that we know when to act in truth, when to extend grace and how to do both.  Jesus was such a wonderful example of both.  He kept the law but did not become legalistic.  He extended grace, but never became permissive in allowing sin to continue.  I've just begun to consciously think on this profound idea of balance between these two wonderful gifts of grace and truth.  It seems that the more I think on these and pray over them the more I realize that balance is not found in a moments realization but in a lifetime of following the master of both.  Even then at the end in this fallen state I think I will still be just as in awe of the perfect man and his balancing of grace and truth as I am at this moment.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who's Your Saviour?

I am struck by how many saving influences we have at our beck and call in modern society.  What has been more striking to me in our 2nd week of a new year of school is how often I want to run to one of these worldly saviours.  I am feeling overwhelmed with the education of my children, I am ashamed to say the thought of sending them off on a golden chariot to school has crossed my mind.  My emotions seem ablaze and out of control, maybe I could call on a friend or someone to just listen to me.  I am exhausted physically, perhaps another cup of coffee will do the trick to perk me up.  Yikes!  This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my automatic reaction to life and my buckling under the tiniest amount of pressure.  Running to the world for comfort has been my all too immediate response lately.
What is more disappointing than my weakness and lack of faith is that I have passed it on to my children!  When school gets hard they fight the temptation to fuss.  When they have to work hard they cave into the temptation to sigh and whine about the work.  When relationships get difficult they often act in a selfish way.
  Years ago before all of the modern day comforts we enjoy I wonder if it was so easy to run to the world for relief from our everyday problems?  I recently watched just a snippet of a documentary on Theodore Roosevelt.  As a young man he lost his wife and then his mother.  In his grief he headed west to Dakota Territory where he lived a solitary and hard working life.  It was a time of healing not by escaping discomfort but working hard through it.  There were not many therapists and physcologists to run to when the trials of life got hard.  He and others at the time had to simply live through the trials and grief of life.  What a beautiful example of fortitude, one that we see less and less these days.
The temptation to run to pop-phsycology, medication and worldly interventions is overwhelming in our society.  We are promised a  cure for every ail.  When we run to the world's saviours will we ever find true healing?  Perhaps there is a place for what the world and science have discovered in the way of drugs and therapies, but dare I say in this politically correct world of words that first we must seek our true Saviour Jesus Christ?  I wonder how many times it even crosses the mind of a sufferer to run to Jesus?
We are not promised happiness or ease of life.  We are promised comfort, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.  We are not promised worldly wealth or riches, we are promised provision, "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19.  We are not promised happiness in life, but we are promised peace, "I will listen to what god the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints." Psalm 85:8.  With all of these great promises in a true saviour why is it we continue to throw His ways away and try the world's?
Parenting is not easy.  Especially if you choose to take on the majority of the responsibility of caring for your children on your own.  The past two weeks have highlighted this fact in my life over and over again.  However, we have a saviour that will certainly be able to help us in each of our trials, but we must take the step to call on Him and accept the help He gives.  It is not usually in the form of a pill or a quick fix, but rather of a molding our character and soul into the likeness of Him.  This way runs so contrary to how the world deals with issues.  His way always has lasting satisfaction, even if we don't get to see the entire result until we enter eternity with Him!  In the mean time, "We say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?'" Hebrews 13:6