I’ve heard that the people who are more likely to succeed aren’t those with natural talent—they’re the ones who have to work hard and study and learn and develop talents and skills. Those with natural skills tend to coast—they rely on what they already have instead of reaching for more. Those for whom the task is a challenge know how to work—they know how to keep developing. They know how to grow.
I’ve stopped growing, in some ways. I’ve chosen a nice plateau with God. I’ve been hoping that last year’s devotion reading is enough for today and I’m hoping just because Lent is happening that it will gather me up into all-inclusive arms without me having to work.
I have natural belief. I have natural faith. And lately, that level of mediocrity has been enough for me.
I want grace to wheel me around as if I’ve forgotten how to walk.
Dallas Willard said it best: “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.”
It’s a truism I’ve recently forgotten to remember.
There are times when I’ve needed to be carried, when I’m too weak to hang on to God so God hangs on to me.
But this time in my life is different.
My current struggle is equal to the villainous legalism, yet different. It’s apathy.
It’s not about how hard I work to earn spiritual favor, it’s about how little I care to live in grace. Either way, legalism and apathy are the same—a disregard for grace. A blatant slammed door in the face of deep love—a love which must be accepted, must be taken, must be acknowledged in order to be lived.
I think one day, after a lot of personal struggle and situational disasters, I felt like discipleship didn’t fit me. It was an uncomfortable high school band uniform I couldn’t wriggle out of. My life was tanking, I watched it happen instead of jumping in to fight. And I finally wriggled out of the uniform—free from acknowledging and taking and living in the grace. I disconnected from what I needed in order to live.
I became disenchanted and disengaged. I read words I wasn’t sure I believed. I cut a lot loose during the dark times, and my communion with God sank with the rest.
I kept thinking about whether or not I want my life to go this way, this sterile disregard for a living union with God. The question lit up in neon when I had kids. What would they see mommy do? Is God cultural? Is belief in God inherited and dead? Or is there something about it we are meant to live? Could this relationship with God be the crux of what it is to be alive?
I want life. So badly. Real life—the kind that pulsates with purpose and vision and intimacy with God.
It’s daily before me. Will I move toward it, or will I stand in the same place and stare at the potential?
I think a wasted life isn’t one that digresses—a wasted life is one that stays in the same place—a life that never goes anywhere, good or bad. A wasted life is one that hunkers down and waits for the end to come.
And I want more. I’d rather engage in a living union than lifelessly assenting to a system of beliefs.
Theologically, I’m not as certain as I used to be about so many things. But I am certain that tomorrow can be different from today. I’m convinced that the potential depth of our connection to God has no limit. Next year, I don’t have to sit in the same place with the same issues and the same disbelief where I wallow today. I can say yes to peace and liberation.
Grace always extends a hand. And for my own life’s sake, I’ve got to get better at taking it.