If you are in the US, I hope you enjoyed your fourth! Thanks for hanging in there through five weeks of reading – only three weeks left. This week we read two of my favorite chapters. Am I allowed to say that?
Learning to let go of the try-hard life feels, in some ways, like an oxymoron. Even though the concept of ‘letting go’ seems carefree and passive, the reality of actually letting go is anything but. Faith often only comes after a fight, after a long road of holding on, after an exhausting last-ditch effort at control. Most of us don’t let go until we’ve tried everything else first.
In the summer of 2000, I sat with my own hopeless confession, my own tired admission that I don’t know how to change. I couldn’t avoid a heartbreaking confrontation with my own fragile humanity. I sat there in that small counseling room of the rented office space right off the highway in Brentwood, Tennessee and waited to hear what my counselor would say to me.
All this mess and all these masks. “I don’t know how not to be this way.” My voice sounded small and defeated. I was embarrassed but too tired to care.
He listened, and then he spoke.
“This may be how you cope … “
…you hide when you get scared, you smile when you get hurt, you serve with a terrible attitude, you do what you don’t want to do, you don’t do what you do want to do, you are a hypocrite, a fake, a liar, and a bad commercial…
” … but this is not who you are.”
This is not who you are.
This is not who you are.
When he said you are a new creation in Christ, Paul wasn’t just giving 2nd grade Sunday school teachers an awesome visual. He wasn’t just providing week-long butterfly curriculum for Vacation Bible School. He didn’t actually mean “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is kind of a new creation, the old is sort of gone (but not really) and the new has pretty much come (except when you feel crummy, and then the old is totally back and the new has no power).”
At salvation, we are straight up new.
Don’t get ahead of me, though. There definitely was something old.
We have to see how bad it is. We have to know the ugly. We have to come face to face with our own deformities, cold-heartedness, apathy, and hatred. See how bad it is! Good girls of the world, admit what you are capable of. Your mask fools no one, not anymore. You are helpless and you are guilty.
But why do we, a people who celebrate a risen Christ, insist upon living like he is still dead? Why do we try hard to pay for our own sin (and expect others to try-hard to pay for their sins against us?) We live with veils over our masks over our painted up faces.
But all of that, as bad as it is, as bad as it was, all of that was taken care of. All of that was killed on the cross. Something new came to take its place. I know there are still remnants. I know we still sin. But sin no longer holds all the aces.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Cor 4:15
I hear this scares people. They worry that if you go around telling people new things have come, then you might lose control over them (which is exactly the point). They say, “Well, grace is important. But you have to have a balance.”
Really? A balance?
So Jesus left heaven to walk on a balance beam with his arms spread wide out so that we would know what it looks like to perfectly balance grace with the law?
It’s actually even more extreme than that. Jesus says, I’ll see your balance and I’ll raise you mine.
He took the whole law, every bit of it, and met every requirement. Then, he stepped off that balance beam, turned it on its head, put another one across it, and let his accussors nail both his wrists into it.
You want balance?
How about all your wrong in exchange for all his right?
How about you hand him death and he hands you life?
Or is it the other way around?
I will tell you this – I have never been more faithful to read my Bible than since I have discovered this grace. I have never been more sorry for my sin than since I have discovered this grace. I have memorized more scripture in the past year than I have in perhaps my whole life. But it isn’t because I was afraid, pressured, anxious, or self-righteous.
It is because I am free.
It is because Someone took out my balance scales, held all of the law in one hand and all of grace in the other, and offered those hands-filled up to His Father and confessed, “It is finished.”
And so it is.
No more balance, friends. All. Is. Grace.
I had an idea of what it meant to be a woman of God (a grown up) and my life was on a steady path in the opposite direction. What are some of your own ideas of what it means to be a woman of God and has this idea shifted at all as you’ve been walking with Christ?
The idea of receiving our identity from Christ and then letting it be true in our lives is easy to say but takes a lifetime to work out. If you really believed that the old is gone and the new has come, in what ways would your life be different? (Would you laugh more? Would you say yes to your kids more often? Would you dare to rest more often? Would you believe in miracles?)
book club information
- Get a copy of the book. It’s never too late to join us. (Amazon, B&N, LifeWay, Family Christian).
- Join the closed Facebook group where discussion is happening as we speak.
- Sign up for the book club if you haven’t already. If you already subscribe to get my monthly newsletter, simply update your preferences to include the book club.
- If you are on Twitter, we’ll use the hashtag #graceforthegoodgirl (unless you can tell me something shorter)
- If you have blog, consider writing your own post and hosting discussion with your readers. Link up to your post in the linky below.
July 12 :: Chapters 13 – 14
July 19 :: Chapters 15 – 16
July 26 :: Chapters 17 – 18
August 2nd:: If you are local-ish, we are planning an evening event in Greensboro, North Carolina at the end of our study. If your are close enough to make it live and in person, we’ll be meeting at Westover Church at 7pm on Thursday, August 2nd.