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Thursday, February 14, 2013

God's Grace-Graffiti

We have come to think of graffiti as a pretty negative word associated with all manner of words, artwork, and the like just haphazardly placed on walls, bathroom stalls, and almost any inanimate object which stands long enough for the "artist" to gain access.  In looking up the origin of this word, I found it means any type of "inscription" which is written upon an object.  In the psalms, David repeatedly talks about the power of the Word of God "inscribed" on his heart.  In giving the Law to the people of Israel, Moses spoke of binding them upon their hands and foreheads, as well as inscribing them on the doorposts of their houses.  This idea of "inscribing" has been around for a long time, but it has taken on a different meaning with the evolution of "graffiti" becoming an "eye-sore" these days.  In the most literal sense, anything which is "inscribed" by God is something worth remembering!  

I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.  So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp!  Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you.  (Psalm 17:6-7 MSG)

David starts this psalm with a plea:  "Listen to me God - I need to build my case before you."  He goes on to tell God this is going to be the most honest prayer he will hear.  In other words, David is about to "get real" with God.  He is not holding back.  I think God delights in these types of prayers - the times when God finally hears us bearing it all to him.  Here we find him saying something which struck me this morning as pretty insightful:  "I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way.  I’m trying to get your way, your Word’s way." (vs. 4 MSG)  Reread this if you need to - it is the evidence of his intention.  David's recognizes there are two paths he can choose in life.  He can choose to go his own way - the world's way.  Or he can choose to go "God's way" - revealed in the Word.

This is the age-old struggle of man's heart - which way will we gravitate toward the most?  Will it be our own - or God's?  In David's mind and heart, he has settled into the latter.  Now, he calls to God to intervene in his life.  He sets forth his desperation, in absolute honesty, knowing God will not turn from him, but toward him.  Why is he so certain of this?  Perhaps we find the answer buried in our passage above.  David knows he has all kinds of "grace-graffiti" written on his heart - this speaks volumes about his "standing still" long enough for God to do some "inscribing" of his heart!  This may not seem very significant at first, but it is.

In order for "graffiti" to occur, something has to be "stationary" long enough for the "writer" to actually have access to it.  If you have ever seen trains passing by with wild artwork on them or some symbol of a writer's identity, you probably have not really given much thought to "how" the writing actually got there.  The train had to be "stationary" at some point in order to allow the "artist" access.  The same is true of our hearts - they need sufficient time to get still before God in order to give him time to do the necessary inscription of grace!

Now, think about some of the graffiti you have seen in recent days.  Some of it is quite quickly done, is it not?  The evidence of this is in the almost "roughness" of the image portrayed - one color, mere words.  Then there is other graffiti displayed which you know someone had taken some time to create - such as when a picture takes form in more than one color, calling attention, capturing the eye.  Both have meaning, but which one will we remember the most?  It is likely we will remember the "image" created by the use of color and form.  God's grace is like that - it writes upon our hearts in such a way it brings "color" and "form" to our lives in a way which captures the attention and focus of those who behold it.

In order to have our hearts "inscribed" by God, we must remember a couple things:

* Access - God cannot inscribe what he is never given access to.  Access is really the state of mind and heart which makes us approachable.  Where does the graffiti artist of today go to do his/her work?  Isn't it in the areas where others will see evidence in the daylight, but where he/she can do the work in secret?  I don't think God does all his work in "secret", but he does have to get into some pretty dark places sometimes in order to inscribe his "grace-message" upon our hearts and minds.

* Availability - God can only make use of that which is available for his use.  If we want a life filled with etchings of God's grace-messages, we need to make ourselves available for etching!  Access and availability go hand-in-hand.  When we get "still" long enough, we often find God taking this as an indication of our availability - we give him access in these moments.

My hope is that we will not resist the inscribing of our hearts by the one who knows the beauty he can bring in the writing of his "grace-messages" there.  So, if we want to be "inscribable", we have to also be available and accessible.  Just sayin!