The unforced rhythms of grace


Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

No pressure. No unrealistic expectations. No demands. No bindings. Just an invitation to come into a place of recovery, for learning and for growing.

Made-to-measure living where we can reach our fullest potential.

These are the words of the greatest leader who has ever lived upon planet earth. Unforced. Rhythmic. Gracious.

Briefly, these are my “takeaways” from this:

1) Grace comes in ebbs and flows. We are given blessings and then sometimes they are seemingly taken away, only to be replaced by newer, greater- albeit similar in nature- blessings later on in time. It is a rhythm that cannot be forced.

2) This grace/abundance/blessing comes from Jesus who is full of both grace and truth. It cannot be achieved through purely human effort.

3) The mention of grace and truth together is not accidental- there is a connection. In order to be able to experience fully these waves of grace that are offered to us, and in order to be buoyed through the lulls of grace, we must anchor ourselves to Truth. Not truth with a lowercase “t”-which is the truth of the world as we see it…we must be solidly connected and receiving Truth with a capital “T,” and that kind of truth is not a proposition or a proposal or a set of facts or descriptions about the world- it is a person, the Person of Jesus Christ. We must anchor ourselves “in Christ”.

Do you know the best way to get into shore and keep both nostrils above the waterline when you feel as if you are being pulled out to sea by an undercurrent? It’s to let go, lay back, stop swimming and just float. You let go, always keeping your eyes on the beach, and you let the current push you back in.

And so it is with life. Sometimes we try to force grace. We recognize a promise that God has whispered into our lives, and when that promise doesn’t come into immediate fruition, we panic. We begin a swim toward shore which is nothing more than a lot of thrashing and flailing and we think this will get us into the safety of the sand. But it seems the more we do this, the more exhausted we get, and our efforts begin to feel, surprisingly, counterproductive. That’s because they are. All the effort in the world will not bring about God’s promise of blessing and grace one second earlier than His appointed time.

Learning to “lean into Grace” is one of the most difficult spiritual practices to do, but it is key to being able to experience the authentic trusting life of a Christ-follower.
A friend used to say to me: “God is never late. Always on time- and rarely shows up early.” She was trying to tell me to be patient; to wait upon the Lord; and to not try to force grace’s rhythms. When we attempt to manipulate the rhythms of grace, we end up wrinkling the fabric of time and history. That may sound very esoteric and mystical, but I say this unapologetically. Because Grace is mystical…

Granted to us by the efforts of The Truth, grace is a gift that is simply unachievable through human effort. When we try to do so, we are literally setting ourselves up as gods. Not good. Not a gracious way to live. Not living by faith, through grace. Not helpful, and never profitable.

Forced grace is not grace at all. Today, let God’s grace wash over you like a mighty river, let it carry you where God wills. Rest in it. Bask in it. Learn its unforced rhythms…

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