The Greatest Grace

I’ve now made two posts and I still have yet to explain the reason for my blog. I have named it “Eternal Graces” for a very distinct purpose. I wanted to share what this title means to me through the story of the Apostle Paul. That’s when I got the idea to write the story that I posted last week. I hope that the story of Saul’s conversion shows where he was at that point in his life. Acts says it like this: “But Saul still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” This is the picture that Scripture paints; this is where Saul was at in his life when the majestic light of God first touched his face.

I say all this to show that there is grace to cover all of your sin. There is grace because Grace was embodied in the form of God’s Son. David Mathis, in his book¬†Habits of Grace¬†says,

“Grace couldn’t be kept from becoming flesh and dwelling among us in the God-man, full of grace and truth. From his fullness we have received grace upon grace… Grace has a face.”

Grace was incarnated in the God-man. Jesus, the Son of God in the Holy Trinity, left His Heaven where He is glorified and praised twenty-four-seven. He lived on this earth for thirty-three years as a human. He was the perfect sacrifice to take our sins upon himself.

Saul did not deserve a divine appointment; instead of Jesus meeting him on the road to Damascus, Saul deserved flames from Heaven to smote him on the spot.

Of course, I cannot point my finger at Saul in judgement. I am no better. My thoughts are just as hateful as his actions were. My desires are often just as confused and out of line as his were. I am often just as prideful as he was. But this is where grace comes out of the sky and snatches us up into God’s justifying and sanctifying work. Paul understood the unimaginable amount of grace that he had received.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Christ didn’t die for the strong, he died for the weak. One of the incredible aspects of grace that has come to my attention recently is that it not only saves us, it keeps us. Everyday that I wake up, I breath, I eat, I work and I am kept under God’s grace. Nothing I do can ever take me outside of the inexhaustible four walls of grace. Nothing that anyone does to me can take me outside of grace. I continually fail each day, each hour but grace keeps me still, even in my darkest moments. Sometimes my depravity overwhelms me, but grace is always there. Grace is eternal.

Grace keeps us from being overcome by our sin, and it brings us into a relationship with the God of the universe. It is only through the Incarnate Grace that this is possible. The grace we are shown will last forever; we will worship in Heaven and enjoy Christ to the fullest for all of eternity because of grace.

Since this is true, we can see grace riddling our lives even down to some of the smallest details (that would be a post for another time). But for now, I have named this blog Eternal Graces because we are shown grace for all of eternity. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ are only one of the ways we are shown grace eternally, there are many, many more intertwined into this greatest grace, that is the gospel. God’s goodness, His Word, His Church, His love, these are all things that Scripture says are eternal and we do not deserve any of them. The only thing we deserve is to die for eternity.

We are continually shown so many graces that will last forever. Eternal graces are bestowed upon you each and every day. Eternal graces are heaped upon your head without ceasing.

 

The Encounter

A dusty road between towns. Just a way to get from one priority to another. Another way for businesses to thrive through trading. A way for soldiers to travel within the kingdom. A way for families to visit and regather.

I’ve seen many things transpire in my long life. Many foolish travelers being robbed and beaten by the nighttime bandits. Prisoners being transported to their death sentences. Armies moving with ferocity and dedication. Friends traveling here or there. Mostly, I see the routine travelers, waiting for the journey’s end so that life can continue. But I will never forget the events of today.

It is amusing to observe the different nuances accompanying each traveler. Some smile and laugh with their companions. Some lonely travelers hunch their shoulders up in disapproval. Some seem to bend in neither direction as they are only tolerating life. This group of men traveled with purpose and strength. There were ten soldiers riding upon mighty steeds, while one man led the charge. They were not riding at an incredible pace, but it was faster than a leisure trip. The man leading the charge was dressed different than his followers. It was obvious that he was someone important, his clothing was much finer than most I had seen traveling. He was probably someone of religious purpose.

The ten men at his backside were soldiers. They functioned on command without second thoughts. This order of business seemed to have set them on edge. Their faces looked somber, rather than determined; each jolt of the horses’ pounding hoofs shook the loose muscles of their faces. The lead man looked like a picture of malice and death. His body rested high upon his black horse. His face was tight, scrunched up slightly. Every now and again, I caught a hint of a smirk in the corner of his lips; like he had a foretaste of the coming events. Whatever the purpose was of this band of men, I did not want to see the aftermath. I ached for those that would survive their rampage and have to live with whatever was left. It would be better to die than to remember the stare given by the lead man. Wherever they were going, only death and misery would be the outcome.

It was a pretty cloudy day, setting the tone for this group. It didn’t look like rain, just grey, melancholy clouds. Big and billowing, they kept the sun from reaching me. For a second, I thought I caught a few rays seeping through, then they disappeared. Then, once more, I noticed a few more. Suddenly, there seemed to be a ring of light directly upon the soldiers, nowhere else did this light appear. It followed them as they rode on. The men began to turn around, loosing their near-perfect posture. Their leader slowed to a stop.

This ring of light no longer moved, it was fixed exactly upon these marauders. It began to intensify…

“What is happening?!” one of the soldiers cried out while the light brightened.

“Have we been cursed?” another exclaimed as the heat began to singe them.

The light became so bright, that it was the only thing that could be seen. It was brighter than the sun, brighter than any of the stars or moons or planets. Nothing could ever match the severity or ferocity of this light. The lead man fell off of his horse onto my rough surface. He tried to shove his face into me; it seemed to help very little.

A voice called out, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” The voice came from practically nowhere but from everywhere at once. It not only surrounded, but it engulfed. No one else seemed to notice the voice besides the leader of the band.

The humbled man replied, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

The light could not have been any brighter, yet for another agonizing second it intensified to the maximum; the man named Saul cried out in absolute anguish. I felt the heat begin to burn through me. Then it was gone as quickly as it had come.

The ten soldiers rose to their feet. All of them had abandoned their horses; amazingly, the beasts had not fled. They said nothing. Saul laid still. His eyes were closed so tightly. His body began to shake. His clothing looked slightly charred, like it had been dried to close to a fire pit. He opened his eyes, his face still pressed against me. I swear, I will never forget the grey mirth of his eyes. I do not remember the color of his eyes before, but now they were entirely grey. No pupil remained, there was no white, just a mirky grey.

“My eyes! I cannot see!” He stumbled to his feet. “I have gone blind.” He lifted his hands into the air to feel for something, anything that could provide stability. He tripped and fell into my hard grit. He would only lay there, moaning for a long period of time. It looked like he was crying, his face bunched up as he groaned, but no tears would come.

Finally, two soldiers helped him to his feet.

“Come, sir. We will guide you home.”

“Home? No…” Saul sucked in a breath. “We cannot return home. We must continue on to Damascus.”

“Are you sure you are well enough?” another solder questioned.

“I am not well. But I have my orders.”

The soldiers helped him onto his horse. One of them guided the animal on foot and they left me to enter the city. This is by far the strangest, supernatural encounter I have ever witnessed in all my years. Part of me wonders what will become of this Saul. Such an event could be life changing or it could drive a person deeper into their already rooted lifestyle. What will become of this Saul after his encounter with this Jesus?

Crickets in my Brain

Here it is! That very first blog post. That post that will go viral, that will make my blog famous, that will speak to someone’s life. There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to that first blog post; the pressure mainly comes from me, myself, and I. For some reason, there is a sense that it has to be the essence of perfection. It has to be life changing for someone or for myself. I should share some experience in my life, or challenge all my readers from a passage of Scripture. And so on and so on.

So here I am, sitting here in front of a bright screen, sipping on a steamy cup of joe. I’m actually writing that first post, but there is one huge problem glaring me in the face. All I can hear in my head are crickets. There really isn’t very much creativity bouncing around up in here. That first brilliant blog post is slowly sounding more and more like a huge wall to scale. Something catches my eye out the window; there’s a green tree branch waving at me. It bends back and forth in the melancholy wind. The bright green stands out against such a dull blue sky, signifying a maturing of new life brought about by spring. It is peaceful and quiet after a crazy day.

I take a sip of my lukewarm coffee. This first post has to be perfect, timeless. The clock catches my eye, three hands in constant motion, encapsulating the continuing loss of time. One hand moves very slowly, illustrating those seasons of life that only change every now and again. The next hand moves faster, making its way around the circumference of the clock twice each day. This represents twenty-four hour days, they come and go and are held within each season of life. The third hand moves very quickly, it is hyperactive compared to its buddies, characterizing the moment by moment of each day. They come and go much faster but put them all together and these moments make up our days, which make up our different seasons, which make up our lives.

I’m sitting in the living room of my parents newly renovated home. I remember first walking into this dark farmhouse. It was uninviting, even scary in some rooms. I recall doubting that I’d ever be able to call it home. Four years later and the place looks close to brand new. It did not instantly provide the warmth of our previous home, but it eventually evolved into an even greater home. Was this the product of buying more expensive paint? Was it because of the charming wood floors, or the rustic kitchen? No, it was because I grew up to realize what home really was and what it was not. It was not the place where you live, but the people you live with.

Home is where you experience those quick moments, it is where long days drag out, it is where seasons of change take place. It is where new life grows and matures. It is where old life stands strong. It is where dying life can find peace. And all of these experiences are experienced with real people.

I take a sip of my cold cup of coffee. That first post, what should it be about? These are just ramblings from my head… Would anyone care to read this truly? I give a quick minute to read over my post.

Well, I guess the crickets had more to say than I expected.

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