Grace is Messy

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I’ve been thinking about this blog now for some time and it’s just been a matter of sitting down to actually write it.  I am not writing this to embarrass anyone, so I’m not going to use any names.  The reason I’m writing this story is to cure you of the idea that you have to be perfect to serve the Lord.  I want you to put out of your mind once and for all the incorrect idea that missionaries or ministers or pastors are perfect.  Put that lie out of your mind once and for all.  Grace is messy.  Each of us have been and forever will be the recipients of sloppy, messy, beautiful, ugly grace from God.  Grace is about fresh starts, Happy New Year.

This past week I have spent a few days at a World Missions Summit where I reconnected with some of my best friends from around the world, other missionaries.  I was struck by a continual theme in their lives as we shared family updates and stories of our lives since we last saw each other.  I am stunned by our universal need for grace.  Our lives are sloppy.  Our details are messy.  It’s like we are all children learning how to color in the lines.  Nothing is perfect.  But Father God still takes our childish, out of bounds coloring and proudly displays it on the family fridge.  We are learning the unforced rhythms of grace.

One friend told me that their family counselor told them, “the only way we can do this is imperfectly.”  Liberating Grace!  Her teenage daughter is learning to be a mother.  My friend still aches for the mission field they left behind to nurture their daughter through a difficult season of life.  It is imperfect at best.  Grace.

With detached emotions another friend reported to us the details of a painful divorce he endured this year.  She ran off with another man.  He told us without flinching, “She just didn’t want to be married to me.”  I choked back my own emotion thinking of how much pain he was holding behind his brave face.   Walking out of the hotel at the end of the weekend, we saw him talking in the lobby with a girl he met at the convention.  Healing, renewing grace!  Fresh start.

Broken by abuse as a child, and now ministering through her scars, my dear friend has remained single when all the other girls were getting married.  Brave woman- broken girl, she kept every man at arms distance and the ones she let into her heart were as jostling, joking little brothers.  She has found powerful healing in God’s strong grace.  Now she is feeling sparks, long dormant, flying to the surface.  Her first love is back, fresh from a divorce where his wife walked out on him and the children.  This is life changing, challenging grace.  But it’s not cut and dry.  It’s a confusing and slippery second chance to love and be loved.  Tender, broken grace.

If our lives were pretty and tidy, we would not need grace.  We can speak of Grace and preach of Grace and sing Amazing Grace how sweet the sound because we WERE the wretches who were saved by it.  We once WERE lost and broken and dying of our wounds.  Now we are found, healed, and saved to live again.  Grace means we live with scars.  Grace means that Father God still loves us when our lives are imperfect and resembling King David.  Poet warrior king who was a man after God’s own heart, yet he still fell into adultery, lies and murder.  He fell and was restored again by God’s messy grace.  It’s what grace is for and why we all need it.

May your New Year be full of messy, much needed Grace.

11 responses »

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This permission to need sloppy grace is pure oxygen as I pry my greedy fingers off of our “normal” life this year to open them for what the Lord wants to do with our family.

  2. It is our source of constant prayer in our church. We must continue to lift our missions family up. The battles are strong and real. I am so grateful for the great grace extended these days by AGWM. There is much more freedom to live with grace in the mess. You all continue to be in our prayers!

  3. I LOVE reading, especially (clean) romantic fiction and Christian biographies, but it does tend to leave you with a subconscious assumption that everything should work out neatly. No messy loose ends. If you are in God’s will then all areas of you life should be good at the same time. It never works that way. A couple of years ago, many things in our life were going well – new jobs after unemployment, a new level of connection in our marriage, but our only child was being a prodigal. Now, our son has come back in a way we could not have imagined, but I am struggling in my work/career and my husband’s job takes him out of state during the week. I can see that it is God’s hand. We are always learning through trials. The goal is not to be free of trials but to trust God’s heart in the trials.

  4. Your mom & dad must be very proud of you. Also your G.Pa will be kicking out the casket….G. ma Betty doesn’t get on internet , but she would be proud too. Your Auntie, great, auntie Donna

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