86 Degrees in October

2013 has been a year of learning about grace.  I’ve blogged about it often, and I even made it my OneWord for the year.  It shows up everywhere and appears in the most random places. It permeates my thoughts and threatens my theology. Grace is my thing.

Hannah's piece: Grace Upon Grace

We had a speaker in chapel yesterday who pursued the concept of creativity. [Chapel video forthcoming.] “People say that they are not creative,” Carl Dylan said, “But think about the person you really hate. We are creative in the ways that we hate people.”

I felt so convicted.

Thankfully, he didn’t stop there. He suggested that we should be creative in finding healing, especially in relation to people who have hurt us. He also suggested that we should be creative in the ways that we love people. We put energy into what we find beautiful, he argued, so we should pursue what God defines as beautiful and put energy into those things. We are called to love, and to be creative in our love, because love is something God calls beautiful.

I reflected on these concepts all day yesterday, and it hit me during worship at SMF last night that God is creative in his love towards us. I mean, I love sunsets, butterflies are symbols to me that everything is going to be okay, grace is my thing… And God shows me sunsets, butterflies, and examples of grace all the time. He is like a mindful, patient, gentle lover, wooing his bride. God is also creative in that he did something unprecedented to show us his love 2,000 years ago.

He sent a sacrifice in the form of his only Son.

That’s kindof a big deal. Imagine Aslan, coming forward as a substitute for Edmund. We are the guilty Edmund, awaiting our fate, and God is Aslan, choosing to enact a long-dormant provision in the law for our benefit. Edmund and the other children didn’t know that Aslan would be resurrected, but he was. God is alive.

There is something intimately creative in the Father’s ways. I guess that’s why we also call him the Creator.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s October. We’ve got a lovely high of 86 here in the Southeast, but October still rolls in, whether or not the weather wants to admit it. God paints leaves changing as well as sunsets and sunrises, and with new days come new chances.

Unfortunately, October is not my favorite month. Without going into too much detail, the past three autumns have not been enjoyable times of my life. And I wish I could say that I have fully moved past everything and that I’m in a totally new place, which I am in a sense, but I’m definitely not at the same time. I wish I could say, to echo Switchfoot’s song, that October “found me on my knees again… to blur the lines that mark where I begin and you end,” but I can’t. I wish, for the life of me, that I could. I wish that October rolled in and found me literally on my knees before the Father. But it is not so. I am not where I want to be with God.

I am disillusioned.

I am disappointed with God, for keeping me in the dark about so many things. I am disappointed in myself for being impatient about my future, about God’s plans that are both right now and too far away. Believe me, I am both incredibly thankful that I’ve come this far and incredibly excited about where I’m going. But I am also at a weird place. I think some of this weird feeling is grief, at losing certain potentialities and certain places (like the little chapel on campus that is scheduled to be torn down). I also think some of this is conviction about love.

There is a realization that even the people who have caused us hurt deserve to be loved, simply because they are people, too. God’s grace does not stop (in fact, it shows up more) when we sin. Am I not called to love my brother or sister as myself? To love through and despite hurt and/or disappointment, whatever the case may be? God gives me exactly what I don’t deserve. Am I not also commanded to give my brother or sister what they don’t deserve?

I not talking about a lack of boundaries. Let’s just get that clear.  But I am talking about creativity of love for our brothers and sisters. At the end of the day, we are still one big family of believers.

It may be 86 degrees in October, but it is still October, my not-so-favorite month, and I am going to make the best of it. I am going to pursue graciousness. I learned earlier this year that grace relaxes perfectionism and doesn’t demand her own way. I learned that grace is what lets us struggle like buildings that can shake in an earthquake. I learned that grace means second chances. Grace keeps no record of wrongs. Grace is undeserved privilege. Grace is freedom that we don’t deserve.

Grace is forgiveness, again and again and again, over and over and over.


Butterfly Photo credit: Paulo Brandão / Foter / CC BY-SA


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