In a recent post I described the healing power of a room of grace. In that room you find acceptance instead of rejection. Understanding instead of judgment. Sadly such a place of God’s grace seems more the exception than the norm and that was communicated in this thoughtful response from a reader.
But where do we find that room of grace, where we are accepted, where people run to us in acceptance, instead of running from us for being broken? Too many in the churches are broken-hearted themselves, are facing terrible situations they don’t know how to cope with. Most don’t seem to even know we are in a battle with Satan to discourage us so much that we don’t know how to seek God with faith. Those who CAN’T attend church are mostly forgotten or invisible. (I’m not even speaking of those who don’t want to go.)
That honest and heartfelt lament made my heart sad. Where do you find a room of grace is a fair question. The voice of discouragement immediately started in my head. Your message of grace and healing can’t happen in the church. Your pipe dream just discouraged a struggling believer. A room of grace is about as likely as a gumdrop forest. Who are you kidding?
My friend Bruce McNicol says that his challenge is trying to prescribe a cure to a church that doesn’t know it is sick. We do have a landscape littered with broken, discouraged and tired sojourners. Imagine people with all degrees of illness and injury going to a hospital emergency room. When they check in every person reports that they are “fine”. None of the staff knows what symptoms the patients are concerned about. The doctor shows up, gives a stirring talk and sends all the sick and injured on their way to “get over it”. That is how too many churches have evolved. Rooms of grace are hard to find. I sadly acknowledge that fact and perhaps it is because such a room is scary. A room of grace takes authenticity, humility, surrender and trust to let down your guard and live out of grace. We have labored under the same performance based checklists for so long that we don’t even know our spiritual health is declining.
Weekly study (Check)
Committee meeting (Check)
Wednesday church, Sunday School, Worship Service, Sunday night Meeting (Check)
I would submit that the unchecked items are the ones that God cares about most. The other good things are so much better when they flow out of grace that creates a willing heart of obedience.
The note continued.
It’s all very well to speak of “doing things” for others, yes, oh it’s so needed. But some of us can’t do much for others. I acknowledge my dependence on God! I’m not able to take my body for granted, as most people do. I’m not able to sort out the confusion of mind, as some people seem to do.
I don’t know what physical challenges you might be dealing with in your life. But may I make one thing perfectly clear? If you perceived any performance pressure from my writings to “do things” for others then I have failed to communicate well. Those people who seem to be able to “sort out” and “figure out” their confusion are often living a lie. They are likely as confused and vulnerable as the rest of us but they just cover it up with more activities and shinier veneers. The entry point to the room of grace is humility. Being in control and self-efforting righteousness will not open that door. The note concluded with these thoughts.
But my prayers are that God himself will intervene, sending himself — his own dear Son, his Holy Spirit — to comfort and cheer and stir up and let the discouraged know how much he loves all of us, and empower us to be His alone. Oh, how I wish there were those who would model the life you describe — of caring enough to show others (including me) Jesus’ care and concern, his cleansing and life-giving power. Oh, how I wish I could minister to others the same way: but the “hows” escape me in my ill and tired body. I’m so thankful, however, that at least some of the time I am able to hold on to the idea that His strength is perfected in my weakness.
There are many followers of Christ who are modeling the life I have described. But may I suggest they are not “trying” to do anything other than live out of the truths of who they are in Christ. That is when their offering of obedience is truly pleasing to God. Just like Abel, our response to God pleases Him when it is out of faith and not begrudging obligation. I quit trying to do ministry and my ministry exploded. I quit trying to change people and God somehow started using me in the lives of others. I quit trying to be significant and I found significance. God’s plan at times seems like the Bizarro World comics I used to read. Everything seems to the opposite of what human nature demands. You are exalted in humility. What? Your heart is more important than your works. Really? Your forgiveness is a gift with no fine print. No way. You can’t do anything to make God love you more. Seriously? It is all so counterintuitive to our cultural instincts.
I would suggest just a few things to consider.
God knows your heart to minister to others. But for now allow Him to minister to you. Let the Holy Spirit comfort you. Let God love you. Ask Him to fill you with His love and for opportunities to love others. Trust God for that happen. He will do it in His time. Remember who you are every day. You are a saint. You are righteous because of Christ and what He did on the Cross. You are adored and precious to Abba Father. When you are tired and ill you have a Redeemer who understands. He experienced tiredness and pain and betrayal. Those closest to Jesus slept through his agony in the Garden of Gethsemene, denied Him in the public square and hid from the authorities after His death. After the resurrection Jesus went straight to those who left Him with a message of love, hope, forgiveness and grace. Relax in Jesus. Maybe you will be the one who constructs a room of grace in your community. Maybe God will lead you to one. Your humility and heart tell me you are ready and willing. Let Him do the rest.