I have taken my time in putting up this post because I want it to be everything I felt, and everything I am feeling. I didn't know how to start it until I was listening to Tullian Tchividjian today. Tullian quoted John Piper as saying "books don't change people, sentences change people", that might not be the exact wording, but it is the exact idea. This can't be more true than in my discovery of faith changing grace.
I recently vacationed in Florida for 10 days. The first 3 nights I stayed at a hotel called The International Palms. I woke up in the morning before everyone else, so I would grab my book and head down to the restaurant and take advantage of the breakfast buffet. I would pick a table by the windows so I could enjoy the sun, the palm tree's, and be constantly reminded in my peripheral that there was a pool and hot tub waiting to be swam in.
I was reading John Piper's "Brothers, We Are Not Professionals". There were several concepts that were really hitting me. Most of what I was reading was hitting at a mind level, not much of it migrated to that place in my soul where I really embrace something. It wasn't necessarily the content of the book that brought around the revelation of grace, but one sentence that suddenly tied the loose ends of 16 years of faith and created what my wife called the "ah ha!" moment.
There is no way I can put you in my mind in that moment as I read, and I doubt just reading what I read will have the same effect for you, but I would like to give you a larger snap shot of the paragraph then zone in on one sentence.
God takes great pains to motivate us by reminding us that He is now and always will be working for those who follow Him in the obedience of faith. He never stops and waits for us to work for Him "out of gratitude." He guards us from the mindset of a debtor by reminding us that all our Christian labor for Him is a gift from Him (Rom. 11:35-36; 15:18) and therefore cannot be conceived as payment of a debt. In fact the astonishing thing is that every good deed we do in dependence on Him to "pay Him back" does just the opposite; it puts us ever deeper in debt to His grace.
My mind ground to a halt (not a hard task while vacationing in Florida). I fixated on one sentence "In fact the astonishing thing is that every good deed we do in dependence on Him to "pay him back" does just the opposite; it puts us ever deeper in debt to His grace."
What!? I read it again, over and over, my mind slowly allowing my soul to process it. Wait, grace is for forgiveness, how can we go deeper by doing good? (This is what my first grace post "Breaking the Chain" was about). Grace is the safety net that we fall to when we fall off this tight rope of faith, it is divine tolerance, (2nd blog post "Divine Tolerance". See, there is a system to how I did this) it's God's constant just in case measure, just in case we need his forgiveness again.
Then it happened, my soul caught up with my mind. In that moment it felt as though the whole world faded away, and I descended with God into revelation. All that existed in that moment was God and I, His Holy Spirit gently teaching me. Suddenly an illustration dropped from the sky, my faith is not a tight rope, grace is not a safety net; no; faith is the world, and grace is gravity. Another illustration fell, then another. Slowly they fell like the the first raindrops of a storm. The drops picked up momentum until a storm erupted, and I was finally completely drenched in this revelation of Grace. Standing in Gods rain, for the first time, instead if watching it from the dry side of a window.