(This was supposed to go out Thursday morning, but as I was writing it I got hammered with the world’s nastiest flu ever. Obviously there was a reason why – I’ve had to give and receive and see a whole lot of grace this week with my 2nd first getting it on Tuesday, my husband taking over completely yesterday and now dealing with cabin fever kids and still recovering. But I hope you hear and get the message of what I’m saying here, that it penetrates to your heart – no matter how seemingly bleak and dark, how impossible and unconquerable the circumstances may seem, there is hope in Christ. For all is grace! And out of the ashes we rise.)
There is one single message that seems to be hammering loud on my heart lately. Even moreso now during the sacred season of Advent – it really shouldn’t be any different than any other time of year where we draw near, seek Christ, prepare him room. And honestly, it isn’t. There’s just something about the reminder of the nearness of Christ, the love came down for us.
The one thing for each of us that will never change; the one thing life lived always comes back down to; the one reason we have the heritage and promise of life eternal through Christ the child – grace.
We can do good, buy good, and be good, but without grace nothing counts for anything.
All the requirements I place on myself, the ideals for our family, the goals I desire to meet, are a puddle of meaninglessness without grace.
Grace looks like realizing that my best efforts will never be enough without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the pursuit of God, the nearness of Christ.
I am thankful for Christmas, thankful for the opportunity to wind things down a bit, though everything around me in the world and in my selfish heart screams do more! Be more! Try more! When my plans for a more peaceful approach, more love extended, more slowing down enjoyed, more in-depth study, more time planned out, less focus on me, me, me, inevitably fail, there is still, always, and forever, grace.
We are not spiritual people, but people of the flesh and the world. Infants, immature in Christ until that day we meet him face to face. In need of more and more and more grace. Poured out, rained down, gulped up.
Some days I am tempted to curl up in a ball, to allow emotion and regret to take a hold; to judge myself as surely the world and everyone else sees me – too small, too infrequent, too erratic, too angry, too undisciplined, too lazy, too unorganized, too uncreative, too selfish, too spendy, too unfocused. Not good enough. Never enough.
It’s all true. I am all these things. In my own effort, in my own strength, I fail. Right side up, upside down, and all around, I fail.
But the condemning doesn’t come from the world, or my friends, or my family. Actually, I’m pretty sure “they” don’t even know or see the half of what I think they do. It’s like going to a party worrying about your shoes, and realizing that 90% off the time no one ever even notices. But you do.
You notice. You know. You feel the weight of all the burdens and sorrows and seeming failures bearing down on you.
You don’t make bread from scratch, even though you know it’s healthier. You don’t buy ALL your kids clothing used because let’s face it, it’s exhausting to find everything to clothe 4 kids. You don’t make water kefir or kombucha or sourdough because you’re afraid to try, even though you know all your guts would be much better off with it. You don’t sew blankets or bibs or leggings because you’re barely keeping your head above water with the mending needed to keep 6 people dressed. You don’t vacuum the carpets weekly, or even bi-weekly (just keepin’ it real!). And yes, sometimes you vacuum the table tops and bookshelves so you don’t have to get the kids to dust again. You didn’t keep on top of your Advent readings or scripture memory and you’re pretty sure you’ll all receive one less jewel in your crown because of it.
Maybe that’s stretching it, but see the length to which we allow these burdens to drag us down? Can you relate to any of these feelings of inadequacy? Fill in the blank with your own, write it down on a piece of paper, then light it on fire or tear it into shreds (just make sure the kids aren’t watching).
Because by his love, his undeserved death on the cross, his birth as the lowliest of all, a tiny baby, Jesus Christ took every single one of those fingers we point at ourselves and he pointed them up, to God, the giver of all grace.
There’s this thing you need to realize. The condemning thoughts don’t come from God. They don’t even come from yourself really. They come from someone else who would love to see you forget the message, the gift, of grace.
Romans 5:20 says “The law was brought so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”
We were created, loved, pursued, and redeemed. We did nothing to deserve the mercy that stems from the love we initially rejected—that we often still reject. We can never make any rules or attain enough perfection to gain favor in God’s eyes. But Jesus. Because of Jesus, there is grace. ~ She Reads Truth O Come Let Us Adore Him (Advent Day 11)
Yes, there are areas we need to be obedient in that God has called us to. Yes, we need to have our hearts torn over sin and repent, for if we skip repentance, what do we believe God saves us from?
Romans 8:3 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”
Only Jesus is wholly righteous. I cannot do enough, be enough, pray enough or read enough to make myself holy and good. My holiness does not lead me to Christ. Christ leads me to holiness.
So this Christmas season, as you feel the weight of every burden on you, as you try to unravel your thoughts and life in the busyness of preparing to slow; in those down moments where you feel utter failure and incapable of making the changes you want to make, remember – Christ the newborn king, became poor, became low, became sin, so that we could receive the ultimate gift of grace. All that matters is that you seek his face.
All that matters is grace.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours! May you receive the grace of God as you seek Christ, and may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13a).