Thursday, January 14, 2016

Half-empty or Half-full?

How would you have liked to have been one of the prophets of Old Testament times, announcing the coming of grace, but not really recognizing the fullness of that grace within your days on this earth?  It had to be hard to be foretelling of the coming of the Messiah and not to have actually been able to set eyes on him.  Even the disciples and those who were able to see Christ in the flesh did not fully recognized all that grace will do in our lives once Jesus establishes his Kingdom and Satan is locked away into eternity in hell.  Grace is not just a one time thing, coming on the scene and then "poof", it is done!  Grace is here and now, but it is continuing and eternal, fulfilled and being fulfilled, accomplished and accomplishing. We may not get that at first, believing only that grace is for the forgiveness of our sins, but not realizing there is much, much more to this thing called "grace" as we go into eternity worshiping at the Throne of Grace!

The prophets who spoke of this outpouring of grace upon you diligently searched and inquired of the Lord about this salvation: to whom and to what time was the indwelling Spirit of the Anointed referring when He told them about the suffering of the Anointed and the honor that would follow it? The Spirit revealed to them they were not serving themselves but you. And you have learned from those who told you the good news by the Spirit that was sent down from heaven. Even the heavenly messengers would like to explore this news. So get yourselves ready, prepare your minds to act, control yourselves, and look forward in hope as you focus on the grace that comes when Jesus the Anointed returns and is completely revealed to you. (I Peter 1:10-13 VOICE)

I highlighted two parts of this passage for us to consider today because I think they tell us something about grace we may not have fully comprehended.  First, we proclaim and share grace with others, not so much because the coming of grace will bring meaning to us alone, but because it "serves" those who hear of grace, the work grace accomplishes,  and then embrace it for themselves.  Second, there is more grace to come - in the here and now, but also in the next breath we taken, on into each breath we will breathe throughout eternity.  Grace is in this respect kind of a thing which "evolves".  It emerges more and more, never quite "done", or fully known - we just see, receive, and walk in more of it each and every day.

To expect the work of grace to be "done" is just kind of silly, for we will always need more of it as long as we continue to battle our sin nature.  We cannot fully appreciate what has not been fully embraced, can we?  We might truly enjoy the effects of grace in our lives today, but we have no idea how much more grace is "about to do" in our lives in the times which are to come.  The prophets could foretell of grace and the work of grace.  They probably experienced a little bit of grace in their times, because they were in relationship with the one true God.  Yet, the grace they experienced became even more "meaningful" when we saw it lived out in the life of Christ who was born a man, endured all the things in this physical body a human being experiences, and then died a horrific death to secure the eternal part of grace for each of us.

Our writer points out there is always more grace to look forward to - it is never-ending, never quite fulfilled.  I saw a post the other day which simply commented about how some people see a glass as half full, while others see it as half empty. It is the age-old question of whether you or I are have a bent toward being pessimistic or optimistic.  The post simply ended with conclusion that we simply forget the glass is totally and completely refillable!  This is how it is with grace in our lives - we can see it as half-way done, or most of the way there, but the truth of the matter is that it is eternally "refillable"!  As we walk this earth today, we enjoy whatever measure of grace we are given for this new day.  As we walk with others in this day, we have the responsibility and privilege of sharing grace with them - much like the prophets of old who did not share the message of grace just for themselves, but for those of us who would "come behind". We do so by revealing the renewed grace we have received in the changed spirit within, the closeness of God's heart we experience when we allow grace to nuzzle us up close enough to hear his heartbeat, and with every action which reflects mercy to those who least deserve it in our lives.

Unlike earthly "wells" which may run dry, the well of God's grace cannot, for it is eternal in nature.  What is done today will emerge tomorrow in a new and fresh way, to be experienced all over again and again, without ever becoming stale or running dry.  We are vessels to be filled - and in being filled, we are to refresh others with that same measure of grace as we have received.  It matters not whether the measure of grace is "half-full" or "half-empty" in our lives - the measure we have received is renewable and never-ending. Grace is meant to be renewed - it isn't going to become extinct in our lives!  If we truly understand this, we won't feel any guilt in coming to Jesus as frequently as we need to in order to be refilled with this grace.  There will be no shame in asking for more - for it is meant for us and it is meant to be shared with others!  Just sayin!