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Occasionally I clean out my column ideas folder and come across random notes and musings, sometimes written in the middle of the night, sometimes in the margin of a church bulletin during a song or sermon during a worship service.
None of the ideas are big enough for a full-blown column, but they may be helpful to someone reading this. So, here are some random thoughts and miscellaneous musings:
On a church bulletin I wrote: Not “Trust God but’ but “Trust God and. Trust God and I’m angry. Trust God and I have unpaid bills or a relationship that’s falling apart. God never promised I’d like what’s going on. He promised he’d be with me.”
This reminds me that if I say, “I trust God but,” what I’m really saying is that I don’t trust God at all. My life can be tanking and I could be angry and afraid and still ultimately trust God even if I’m wailing on the floor.
He’s never let me down yet.
Author Larry Crabb uses a phrase “collapse into extravagant grace.” When I think of that I picture myself being bone tired, climbing into a bed with a pristine white down comforter and lots of thick, fluffy feather pillows and sinking into the best sleep ever. Or I’m standing under a hot shower, washing my hair with jasmine-scented shampoo, or being hugged by a grandma who has hot apple pie waiting in the kitchen.
It’s that sense, that deep knowing, that God wildly adores even his most wayward children and the life he offers is better than the best, most pleasurable experiences this world offers — even better than a grandma with pie.
I saw a refrigerator magnet in a Christian bookstore once that showed a cartoon woman wearing a sandwich board that read: “I’m trying to be right with God.” I think it’s supposed to be an encouraging reminder to work harder for God since he’s done so much for us and all and that we need to be worthy of his gift of salvation. However, to me it has the opposite effect. It makes me want to feel defeated before I even start trying.
Actually, it goes against scripture to believe that I can be right with God by trying. After all, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
I think a lot of Christians forget that and may even prefer to work hard to be right and stay right with God rather than rest in his grace. I think some may even, without knowing it, actually hate grace since you can’t work for it. Grace is quite un-American.
“The moon is always round.” I heard someone who had suffered a horrible life say that that’s what she tells herself as she struggles to stay sane. The moon is always round, but most days we only see a part of it because of the earth’s shadow.
God is always good and always at work on our behalf, but sometimes it seems like he’s playing a cruel joke or is off getting a sandwich or taking a nap. But he’s not, and the moon is always round.
A few years ago I started giving up recreational shopping for Lent. I found a note I wrote the first year that read, “The one thing I know is this: Even if I can go the whole 40 days, God will not be any more pleased nor any less pleased with me if I can’t. We don’t obey God to get his smile; we obey because we already have it.”
Saying no to buying stuff I don’t need as I remember God’s smile sometimes makes me feel almost giddy, and I love feeling giddy, especially about Jesus.
Even the dimmest bulb lights a dark room. That gives me great hope, especially when I feel like a spiritual slug.
Sometimes the shame of sins committed even decades ago almost crushes me until I remember that I am not only forgiven but washed clean. When I start to feel shameful I sing the part of my favorite hymn, which goes, “When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see him (Jesus) there, who made an end to all my sin” and the shame goes away.
Hallelujah, I love God’s mercy.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.