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Friday, May 15, 2015

Entering God's grace

I have enjoyed vacationing in Colorado again this year, exploring areas I haven't seen since I was a kid.  One of the things I like to do is notice the signs around me - especially those which announce we are "now entering..." and "now leaving..."  It is like a clear-cut way of understanding where the town or landmark begins and where it ends.  Why is this important?  When we are looking for our way, these signs welcome us.  When we are drifting a little too far outside of where we wanted to go, they warn us we are about to leave the area we hoped to spend a little time in exploring.  On road trips, these signs are important.  In real life, when we need to be cognizant of where we are in comparison to where we want to be, these "signs" may be equally important to us!  They may not be physical signs which announce "now entering..." or "now leaving...", but there are "signs" we are about to something foolish such as "leaving God's grace".

If you try to be made right with God through the law, your life with Christ is finished—you have left God’s grace. I say this because our hope of being right with God comes through faith. And the Spirit helps us feel sure as we wait for that hope. When someone belongs to Christ Jesus, it is not important if they are circumcised or not. The important thing is faith—the kind of faith that works through love. (Galations 5:4-6 ERV)

We cannot be "in the right place" without being "in God's grace".  This is impossible.  We need to pay attention to the signs we might actually be "leaving God's grace" if we are to be continually within the "boundaries" of the place we need to be living our lives.  We aren't made right through our travels into lands marked out by those signs which tell us we are "entering by our own works". We are entering into territory where we will only experience frustration and continual disappointment if we think this is the right place for us to live!

Our hope is in the actions of faith - not in the actions of works.  Our place of dwelling begins within the boundaries of grace - our place of actually enjoying life also begins in this exact same place!  We cannot get to "right with God" apart from looking for the signs we are "entering God's grace".  Grace isn't one of those place we find haphazardly, like some of the discoveries we make while on vacation exploring new places and observing the scenery.  Grace is a place purposefully pursued and actually found because of God's "GPS" working in our lives.

In a literal sense, we have experienced the "value" of the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) of this world.  If we have flown, we have benefited from the pilots being aware of their location because of their "plotting" of path of flight because of the benefit of these satellite positioning devices bouncing back signals alerting them where to turn that plane and when it is time to land.  If we have used them in our vehicles, we know the comfort of listening to the voice announce we need to turn right or left within the next 500 feet.  Last night, we took a wrong turn, thinking we were entering into our neighborhood for the condo we are renting.  Ummmm....we were getting more and more twisted around with each turn because we weren't fully aware of the environment and it was after dark!  The landmarks we used to navigate in the daytime don't show up as well in the night.  So, we had to turn on the GPS quickly, punch in the address of the condo, and you know what - we were 1.1 miles out of the way!

What happened when we took the first wrong turn?  We left where we thought we were entering.  As we navigated back with the assist of the GPS, I observed we were within about 200 feet of making the right turn when we actually took the wrong direction which took us 1.1 miles out of the way!  What I realize is how easy it is for us to get off-course with where we think we are whenever we rely upon our own devices to get us to where we think we are going.  We need to heed the signs!  Something told me to turn right, but we chose left. I was as disoriented by the landmarks as I could be.  We cannot always rely upon the landmarks we have relied upon in the past.  What we can always rely upon is the signs of God's grace in our lives.  Where grace is, there is freedom.  When we begin to step outside of grace, we begin to get into places of bondage again. Places where we feel "bindings" of works and self-effort placing their ties upon us again.  This is when we find we are "leaving God's grace" and entering into the place marked by the sign "entering self-works".  Not the place we want to be living, just sayin!