I wrote this from Kiawah Island, a beach about 45 minutes south of Charleston, South Carolina. (a REAL beach, I say, tongue-in-cheek to these Philadelphians who consider the New Jersey shore THE beach) And believe you me, I’ve had many moments to put into practice what I had the time and luxury to theorize about! (see the last paragraph about death/life)
I hope you’ll be encouraged to look for grace, wherever you are in your life today…
I sit on a porch perhaps a half mile from the beach. Sunlight drifts in through the screens and the palmetto trees. There’s a golf course in the background. Faint happy noises of families vacationing, kids playing, birds calling out to each other. The evening crickets are warming up for their nightly symphony. I am alone but also near to my family. Mom’s inside cleaning up after supper; Dad’s with Seth playing a few holes of golf. We are at peace here.
It’s beautiful. Very. Exquisitely so. I’m going to try to focus on the present beauty that must surround me at any given moment. If my Creator is good and beautiful, as is His creation, there must be some of His exquisite nature that peeks through despite the sin. It’s so easy though to focus on the sin.
As I take a step back from my profession for a week, I’m realizing that many days it feels like I focus on sin. Whether mine, theirs, or someone who’s hurt them. I’m bombarded with the harsh reality of sin and its damage to a world created to be perfect. I hate sin. I hate what it does to me, to others, to those controlled by it and blinded by it.
So I think I am going to need to be much more intentional about looking at grace. Reflecting on it, watching for its beautifying presence even in the midst of sin and its consequences. I need it so that I worship God for who he is and enjoy others for the gifts they are. We are saints, after all (those of us in Christ). Oh, to truly live out of this promising reality! Rather than the despair of being a sinner.
I want newness. No more stale worship or half-hearted relationships. I also know this is impossible to perfectly arrive at this side of heaven. But how do we live in the in-between without either becoming a naïve idealist or a cynic pessimist?
The cross. Redemption. That must have something to do with it. The hope of the “already and not yet” can’t be felt without the reality of the cross and resurrection. Jesus died and rose again. So I will live through death – both the kind of death which will be a doorway to Heaven and the many varieties of death that living out redemption in the here-and-now will entail. Death to my time, to controlling every moment of my schedule, to trying to keep life clean when it gets messy, to my preferences, to anything that gets in the way of Life that is really life.