Good or grace?

1928266_161060860600_3641664_nIt was the kind of restaurant that didn’t even need to advertise. Founded in 1987 by a couple of wanderlust twenty-somethings, La Saveur was a dream child. Red pinstriped awnings and gold scripted storefront signage was all it needed to draw customers. As a corner bistro, it drew patrons in with the waft of a fresh croissant au chocolate or their perfect spinach quiche.

This one particular Wednesday morning, La Saveur was serving their signature potato, sausage and leek soup, complete with a warm croissant and cappuccino. Tony a doctor, and Louise articling to be a lawyer, fit in their weekly bistro date religiously. It was their weekly ‘meet cute’, even though they had been dating for three years. It was familiar, yet beautiful. Predictable for their palette, they knew they could count on La Saveur. Although today, something would be strikingly different.

Conversation between the two was always easy. That never changed. Tony smiled as Louise tried to fit in as many words in a sentence as she could, knowing their 60-minute mid-day date would soon be over. She poured out her thoughts and heart to Tony, and he adored her for it. She curled her fingers around her dark curls as Tony shared about work that day at the hospital.

When their steaming soup arrived, they said a quick prayer of thanks, and began. After only a few mouthfuls, Louise began to cough. Tony initially passed it off as ‘just hot soup’, but then the color in her face began to drain. She was choking. Louise fell to the floor, and as Tony tried to grab her from behind to do the Heimlich, Louise brushed him away.

“Louise! I can help you! Let me help you!”

Louise began hitting her chest with one hand, and warding off Tony with the other, as though she thought she could save herself. Now kneeling on all fours, coughing, Tony finally grabbed her off the floor and put both hands over her chest and pumped. After a few spurts more, Louise coughed up the sausage that had lodged itself in her throat. She collapsed, exhausted.

Tony grabbed her napkin and dampened it in her water, and spoke in hushed tones. “You’re okay. It’s out. Everything is going to be okay.”

***

Humor me, if you will.

I am 34, and lived my whole life as a Christian (since I was about 4), and only now beginning to understand grace. And my need for it.

You see, I finally got tired of being called nice. It didn’t seem like a compliment anymore. I want impactful. Depth. Truth speaker. Points people to Jesus even if it hurts. Not just nice.

And what is kindness if it isn’t first founded in the gospel? It’s selfishness.

I can sit, as though regularly at dinner with Jesus, but if I never allow grace to help me in my weaknesses, that’s exactly where I’d stay – unchanged. Ouch. I know. Extending genuine grace to others, comes when we realize our own need for it, and allow the work of the gospel to change us.

What is grace? God’s ability working in us to do what we cannot, ever, do on our own.   2 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

How undeserving, completely necessary, and totally free this grace is.

I’ve been reading through Romans and chapter 9:30-10:4 hit me between the eyes the other day. Paul is talking about Israel’s unbelief. In short, he says that we can pursue the law (what is right), but if we are not doing it by faith in Christ (but by works), then we completely miss out on righteousness – God’s character being brought out of us.

Paul goes on to say he hopes they will be saved, because you can have a zeal for God without a knowledge of God. We can have a zeal for the ‘doings’ of Christianity, but without a knowledge of God HIMSELF, it doesn’t lead to righteousness. The very thing many of us pursue.

You see, we can say and do all the right things (nice!), but if there’s no Christ at the beginning, the middle, the end … We’re lost in our own sea of self-righteousness.

We can make our lives beautiful and predictable, but there must be opportunity to recognize our faults, admit we need Jesus, and let Him take it from there. Daily. From strength to strength (Psalm 84:7)

Sitting here, seeking to make room for grace…

If you’ve never heard of All Sons & Daughters, their song ‘You have called me higher’ is appropriate right about now 😉

 

I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all your goodness
Hope to feel your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel you
Hope to feel something again

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But you have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I will go where you will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I will go where you lead me Lord
Where you lead me
Where you lead me Lord

And I will be Yours
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy light the path before me

 

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