“But the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.” -Relient K
Isn’t it funny how we tend to turn to God in times of difficulties, then forget Him when things are going well? Even if our prayers are half-formulated and flung up in anger or some other unpleasant emotion, trials have a way of turning us to God, which I believe is the main reason He allows them to happen in our lives. There’s a whole lot that could be said about that, but what has been on my mind lately is the part when things are going well. During my struggle with not having a job and the physical and emotional challenges that went along with it, I knew the struggle would come to an end eventually. While most of me looked forward to the relief that would come, there was a small part of me that didn’t want the struggle to come to an end. I knew there was richness in it that I couldn’t explain, a richness that outweighed the negatives, even if just barely. And I knew that in that time, just like during most of the more difficult seasons of my life so far, I was actually closer to God, able to relate to him in a deeper way somehow. That small part of me feared that when the clouds broke, I would slip gradually back into complacency and distraction and let God slowly slip down my list of priorities once again.
Although I’ve still been seeing God at work in my life in neat ways lately, I have to admit that some of the passion has faded as I’ve let distractions and poor time management get in the way. I’ve still offered snippets of my time to God “when I can”, but not the solid chunks that leave room for that richness to really seep in the way I know it could. Yet when I look to Him I don’t find the guilt trips we come to expect because we’re so used to giving them to ourselves and each other. When I feel like I deserve a scolding, or at least deserve for God to only give me a few small blessings in proportion to my own measley effort, he stuns me with his generous grace.
See, I had started to read some fiction books during my free time, mostly books I have already read. Reading is great, but I knew I was letting it distract me from spending daily time with God, staying up late reading and then having to rush out the door in the morning because I was too tired to get up when I should. I knew in the back of my mind what I was doing, but I figured I’d just finish reading what I wanted to and deal with it later. Nice, huh?
Well, I enjoyed reading (in spite of knowing that stories and distractions never fully satisfy those little obsessions I get, and sometimes make them worse). It rekindled my desire to write, something I had felt God calling me to this summer but had let drift into the background. Also, the characters in the book I was reading had some good qualities I realized I have been sorely lacking, and it has made me want to make some changes in the way I relate to people in my life. One day I was sitting there thinking about these things when suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks: God used my distraction from him as a way to reach me, and even bless me! I didn’t offer him my best, but he graciously took what little I gave him and turned it into something beautiful anyway. I sat in the realization for a while, stunned, the breath actually knocked out of me, amazed at his amazing grace.
I’m not saying it’s fine to just do whatever we want, ignore God, and expect him to do everything for us anyway. He deserves our devotion, and he will often let us experience the consequences of our choices. I’m sure there were still consequences of my choices- I probably missed out on some more of those rich moments I could have had with Him, and some days that may have gone better than they did. What I am saying is that his love is not contingent on our performance, which is hard to wrap your mind around because we’re used to having to earn love.
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust…” -Psalm 103:8-14
“If we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.” -2 Timothy 2:13