|Why can't you show me your beauty |
without all of your thorns?
I came to believe a long time ago that God doesn't get it wrong; that he's all-knowing and infallible. I believe that if God has brought himself to my attention, then it must be for a reason. But I'm not special, am I? How could I be? I'm flesh and bones like anyone else, biological and human matter. How could I be special? I'm not a "good" person. I mean, before choosing to believe what I do about God, I wasn't doing anything particularly good in this world for God to have thought "Yep, there's a good person that I choose to be associated with". No, I wasn't doing anything particularly good then and I'm not doing anything of that nature now either. So why would God focus on me? Part of me recalls that verse (Matthew 7:21-23) where Jesus said that not all of those who invoke his name will be saved, in fact most of those same people, he will call out on their hypocrisy and tell them that they will have no part in heavenly his kingdom. Geez, so is that me? Am I just someone who happens to have knowledge of the biblical scriptures but really I'm not a true Christian?
Then I start thinking best-case scenarios and I think, yes, God did "choose" me to be his follower but I don't know why or for what purpose yet, but it will be revealed. Then I think, even the Hebrew Scriptures have stories of unholy men and women, of Gentiles, that were "chosen" to do good things for God's chosen people but who themselves weren't any better for it. Oh boy, am I just a pawn? Would that even be so bad if God used me, someone who he does not think so highly of, for those of his people that truly do deserve his grace? And what will happen to me when my purpose is served? Will one day my mission and use be complete? Will God one day say "you've done enough" and just leave me on my own? Then a certain panic comes over me because I don't want that. I love him!
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be of use to God. It's not a volunteer position either, because I believe God does give me so so much in this life. But what if I've only benefited from God by receiving all these blessings from him but really he doesn't consider me one of his own, part of his team? I mean, he said himself that the sun shines on the good and bad. What if I've been a very fortunate bystander?... I get all these fears and insecurities in my mind about how "good" a person or how "good" a Christian I'm being that I can work myself up into a paralytic despair.
Then the other day I heard a talk about God's grace and it really breathed hope back into my heart. See, as a Christian I learnt about God's "undeserved kindness". It was always about how great and wonderful God is and how we deserve nothing of all the good things he gives us, since we're born with sin already imprinted in our blood and are incapable of anything good. Our whole Christian lives (and mine in particular) was all about guilt. God was my shoulder to cry on, my welfare office I asked for all the help I needed, acknowledging how weak and useless and unworthy a being I was. But you know what, if you substitute the word "grace" for the term "undeserved kindness" then God becomes more than a safety-net.
A God who gives grace is a compassionate God who doesn't remind me of my sin and wrongdoing every other second before offering me his help. Grace. Oh wow, what a difference a word can make to my whole being! Grace; yes, I am in receipt of God's grace - and he doesn't ask that I justify my existence. He doesn't ask of me, he gives. He doesn't expect of me, he guides me lovingly. He isn't asking me whether I'm good or bad or worthy or not, he shows me how he has absorbed my sin in that one single act of martyrdom. He didn't need to know what each of my sins were, he said I forgive them. It really is such an embracing word. It really does describe the kind of God I learnt to love, not the one I was taught to fear.