Raw Reflections from the Journey

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Limits of Grace

It was 10pm and I was done for the day. It was time to curl up in the sheets, read for a bit and maybe have a little lovin’. It would be the perfect nightcap to a wonderful holiday weekend. Get the picture?

The last thing on my mind was the next day’s schedule. But it was at the top of Jill’s bedtime checklist, especially because I was going to be gone for a few days. One of my bride’s many God-given gifts is the ability to tie up loose ends. Do you see the making of a perfect storm? If only I’d been a bit more patient.

Something about the way Jill expressed surprise about me forgetting one of our appointments set me off. “Don’t you remember we rescheduled that?” Blame fatigue or my expectations that she would be as ready for bed as I was…the fact is that I wasn’t gracious. Sadly that momentary lapse cost US* for the next several hours.

This was a bad ending to an otherwise wonderful weekend. We’d enjoyed barbecue, leisurely walks and talks and some enjoyable episodes of affection. How is it that things can get so twisted so quickly?

Looking back, I have to admit that I’ve harbored an ungodly belief that grace has limits. It was 10pm, about the 16th hour of my day, and I didn’t feel like being patient with Jill’s need to clarify our schedule. “Do we have to deal with this now?” Besides I felt dumb that I’d forgotten, and I read into Jill’s tone. Still grace would have solved the problem before it got started. It wasn’t long before she asked for it, “Hey, how about a little grace?” It was a very appropriate request. In hindsight I’m sorry that I had to be asked.

It’s a good thing that God doesn’t limit grace, isn’t it? “Sorry Jeff, you’ve sinned one time too many. No more grace for you.” It’s unbelievable and unfair that it DOESN’T work that way. And since He doesn’t work that way, neither can I.

Learning to live loved requires acceptance that while we were still sinners Christ died for us; the just for the unjust, the lovely for the unlovely. And learning to live loving means that every thought about others is rooted in the reality that love continues to be extended even when we behave in an unlovely ways.

Jesus doesn’t demand perfection from me as a condition of His love and acceptance. If I’m going to walk as He walked then I won’t demand perfection from others. Rather, I’ll walk with Him and allow Him to work on my heart because it’s clear that working on it myself doesn’t work. And maybe, just maybe I’ll reach for strength in Him and allow Him to live through me, even after 10 o’clock at night!.

*US – capitalized us/US indicates the union of our relationship. My choice cost us; not me, not her, but US…our marriage.

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