How to let grace be grace

“Let grace be grace.” The invitation has been ringing in my ears throughout Lent. Sometimes as I’ve heard it, I’ve been able to lean in and let go and receive grace, other times not. As I spoke with the friend who helps me listen I had to confess that I felt like I still didn’t really have a clue how to let grace be grace.

She said this: “Maybe it’s just about where you look.

Yes. That’s it. Will I focus on my failures (real or feared), or will I focus on Jesus?

Why do I forget this?

The dying Israelites had to look at the snake on the pole to live (Num 21:8-9).

Peter had to look at Jesus to keep from sinking (Matt 14:28-31).

And my Grandpa told me when he was teaching me to drive, “Look where you want to go.” Look at the Way, not at the ditches. We have to look around enough to know where the ditches are, but then, to get where we want to go, we have to return our gaze to the road we’re wanting to travel.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses—[all of whom looked more at God and his promises than at their sins or their circumstances]—let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

When Jesus speaks slang

“Christ is risen!” The worship leader welcomes us to our gathering as we enter this third week of Eastertide.

“He is risen indeed!” we echo. Is it just me, or is our pronouncement gathering strength as we venture further into this season of new life?

I’ve just walked across the bridge, facing into thousands of runners moving steadily toward me.

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“Wheelchair!” one man called out, asking the crowd of runners to make a little space for him to pass through, pushing his friend.

A young girl walked on the side, holding her mother’s hand.

A balding man jogged past.

This was my third year walking to church against the flow of the runners. Every time it brings tears to my eyes. I want to turn around and run with them, joining this crowd making space for people of every age and ability to run together.

As I reached the far side of the bridge, the leader of the band at the corner called out, “You’re killing it! You’re half-way there already!” It’s a funny turn of phrase, “killing” when she means “doing well,” but her words raised tears in my eyes again. I could hear the cloud of witnesses calling out to us. I could hear the voice of the One who will one day say “well done.”

He doesn’t wait until the end of the race to offer encouragement.

Sometimes He speaks through the slang of a band leader on the corner.

Sometimes through emailed words offering reassurance, “Be at peace, my friend.”

And sometimes His comfort comes over bowls of Tim Horton’s chili as three friends consider those times in life when, like the man whose friends dug a hole in the roof, we have to let others carry us to Jesus. It’s how it’s meant to be.

I think once more of the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q1. What is your only comfort

in life and death?

A1. That I am not my own,

but belong with body and soul,

both in life and in death,

to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. . .

“With body and soul”—it’s how I belong to Him. It’s also how He belongs to me.

This, today, is my favorite part of Easter—being raised into belonging. And belonging not to a God who stands at a distance, disembodied, but to one who embraces us still with skin on.

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Taking it deeper:

What might it mean for you to remember today that you belong not to a disembodied God but to one who still gives Himself to you through His body?