I do not think it was an epiphany but a dose of clarity occurred while being oppressed by the wind while cycling. Grace, Mercy, and Faith are incredible on their own but when they blend together it produces a different kind of lifestyle.
The concern is how best do they blend? What typically happens is we try to live by faith (a subjective faith “if good happens then I’m on the right track….if bad I need to get my life….”) and then point to grace and mercy and be thankful for them. The issue is we try to balance them like a three sided sea-saw with only two people to sit on the ends. Something is always going to be off. I said “issue.” Really that should be symptom. There is a problem creating the symptom. And that problem is in perception of the ingredients.
Our approach to grace is like this. I say you have a new car. It is free and you can come and get it. You trust me and that trust is subjective to what I have offered. Then grace is a “wow I don’t deserve this car” and mercy is “I really could be riding the bus.” (no slight on the environmentally conscious or large city dweller, I’m merely using it for comparison purposes.) Then we push forward trusting that the car is available I just need to get there. And when I get there if I can just stay out of trouble I’ll tell you “thank you.”
I think it was around mile 3 when the wind changed directions that something became clear to me. One as demoralizing as wind may be when I cycle I think I get more clear conversations with God. And two (the one you really care about) is that our problem is the car. The gift is too small and too common.
When God grants a relationship, or an opportunity, or salvation/deliverence in your life the blending is on the right track when the gift is too big. God not only grants perfect gifts but he also grants the kind of gift that we would have never even conceived of asking for. Using the analogy earlier the car would be the gift IF the person never knew that a car existed. And not just the car itself the car would be answers to all kinds of implications also like: there is a way to get to a place quicker. Or people standing in intersections does not need to happen. Or there is place to hang those evergreen trees that smell weird. If the gift is salvation (deliverance) or anything else given by God, then it is the right blend when the gift is so magnificent you know something has happened that is always one step beyond being defined. Too small you start to think you earned it.
When it is large and inconceivable the blend is slowly starting to happen. And here is where the three ingredients start to mix properly.
When God places something in your life so magnificent, so majestic, and so incredible and you understand it, something changes. This is where grace has its proper beauty. You have moved from reading art online to stepping into the museum. You see that God has not merely given you something to be used or admired, but the very thing he has given you has changed you. You realized that what has actually happened is you moved from gazing at some statue to realizing that you are statue yourself. All the molding and forming was actually for you and to you.
This is when grace has its perfect work. And the blend begins. Something in your life has to be so magnificent that it changes the very perspective of how you see life; how you see God. When it comes it changes you. Grace tells you how small you are and you agree. You know that it is not just an undeserved gift from God. It is a grace that clearly articulates that you are undeserving, you are small. And you agree. You havve been and done too much to be granted something you never considered asking for or never thought was possible. God’s grace is perfect grace. He is also holy. His gifts are so separate from us it should leave us in awe of the gift and the giver of the gift.
Then there is the ingredient called mercy. Which is the other side of the sea-saw. This side comes with the painful realization of ourselves. A correct response to something so magnificent happening to you is to realize that you that you deserve the opposite of a perfect gift. He places something so life-changing in your life you recognize that what you deserve is something life-destroying. The deeper the examination of our wanton actions toward God the more you realize that mercy is the ingredient keeping the gift in check.
With the two ingredients we find ourselves in limbo because we vacillate between two modes of thought. The cycle goes like this: We know the gift is good but not quite incredible. But enough to know its really really good. So we recognize that God is gracious. But then we know we are horrible. So we alternate between “thank you so much for…” and move to the other side of the sea saw because we’re horrible and plead for mercy. Too heavy on grace we doubt we have the gift when we mess up. Too heavy on mercy we never are quite sure the gift is ours and whatever your hangups are keep you in the corners of your own mind trying to maintain balance.
But when the gift is beyond magnificent. When the gift is not so much the gift any more. When the giver is in the gift. Now all three ingredients find themselves in life’s crock pot and they only need time to marinate.
When God’s infinite plan offers to you something so magnanimous and its beauty shines joy in and through your life then grace is in its proper place. You clearly understand that you never earn something when you are properly acquainted with God’s grace. And when you gaze into that gift and see God’s hand on it, you are clear that His love has replaced His wrath. He could have sent that very thing to destroy and consume you. Instead He sent it so He may embrace you. That is when mercy is balanced.
The strain of moving back and forward between “it is good what He has done for me and I do not deserve it” and “I know how undeserving I am, will He take it away???” ceases when it is the right kind of faith. It is no longer just a faith that is not subjective to believing the circumstances. Balance occurs when you trust Him. Blending occurs when we trust Him.
Is this real what you do God? Will you permit it to last? I am still flawed God and I know I do not deserve you salvation, your relationship, your people, this kind of love will you remove it?
The blend occurs when we trust Him. If the gift is incredible and too wonderful to be deserved then the blend occurs when you trust Him. Faith is the same word as trust.
What He grants…He really grants.
What He maintains for you..is maintained for you.
How awesome is our God?