Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grace

It seems like I've been running into grace a lot lately. I guess that's what happens when you read things like Romans and 1 Corinthians at the same time. My take is that Paul felt grace every day, so it was something that was as vital to him as air is to most folks. I can see though, after being hit over the head with it a few times lately that grace should be right up there with air for me, too.
You see, I'm a student of the law. I've been studying the law for as long as I can remember, not the ones set up by any particular government, no the law of "do right."
As a little girl, I preferred to do right instead of deal with the consequences of doing wrong. I loved do right laws, so I learned as many as I could and obeyed ALL of them. It has even persisted into my adulthood. For example, in South or North Dakota, there are areas of no speed limit or if there is, it's something ludicrious like 80. I went about 70 through there, tops. My do right laws often dupe government laws, because I don't find them restrictive enough in some cases. I even learned a whole bunch of do right laws in regards to food. You probably know them, too.
Some of mine are don't eat too much, finish your vegetables, treats are for binges, exercise is for weight loss, removing food groups is temporary at best. Tough rules to abide by, but they worked for me, for the most part. But these do right laws don't really work with grace. It's pretty easy to get up and say if you do right, you'll be all right. But that's not the way the world works. You could technically do right every minute of every day of your life and still not end up with the results that you want. Because at the end of the day, it's not our do right laws that change us, it's grace.
Grace is one of those things that I don't really understand, but I'm willing to take a chance on it to find out more. I have a feeling that grace is less about do right and more about be right. I think it's trickier to navigate than my do right laws, because sometimes the law will fail me.
Honestly, most times the law will fail me. I've seen that a lot this past winter. I didn't exercise, I ate some carbs, I didn't have a lot of vegetables, I persisted with my low carb ways and yet, nothing on the outside changed. My laws FAILED me! Mainly because the ones that should have picked up the slack and made everything even out in the end just didn't do it. The weight that I placed on my low carb lifestyle wasn't enough to continue the results I had seen last summer, when I was following so many other do right laws. There I was thinking, well, when I can get all my do right laws back on track then things will be better. Nope. My laws have stopped working for me. So where do I turn? More laws, stricter ones? I think the answer I'm hearing is grace. I need to find my hope in there somewhere.
It's clear to me after this winter, that all the success I achieved last year in regards to health goals where not because of my do right laws, but because of grace. I have to accept that and thank God for providing his grace when I needed it most. I feel bad that I have given glory to all those rules this past year and I don't even know how to tell folks when they ask about it that it was by God's grace, other than to look like a fool and say it. Last year, I lost forty pounds by the grace of God. Over the past four years, I have lost a total of 80 pounds by the grace of God and I am certain that by the grace of God, there is more weight to be loss.
I want so badly to give folks a list of do rights so that they can experience what I've experienced, but it turns out that it wasn't my diet that caused this change, it was God who used the diet for His glory.
Grace isn't something that you can earn or buy at the store, it's not something that you can take for yourself. It's something that has to be accepted through humility. I find myself constantly being reminded that my laws don't work, almost every time I get on the scale lately, it's like God saying, "Grace!"
I waste a lot of time arguing with him about this. I'm often convinced that I just need to tweak the rules just a bit to get the results that God is so willing to give me if I just submit to his will. Easier said than done, right?
So here are the be right laws that I'm discovering, I hope that they will serve me well and maybe inspire a little grace, too.

Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NLT

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