If You Desire Grace

The other day I read this beautiful and evocative poem by the 13th-century poet Rumi.  It spoke to me of the mysterious nature of grace.  
if you desire grace 
lose your selfish self
till you can taste 
the sweet essence 
in the blackest
of your moments 
wait with no fear 
I've been thinking about that poem ever since I read it.  

It's unsettling and comforting at the same time.  It speaks of how we keep ourselves from experiencing grace because of our willfulness and inability to keep from white-knuckling life as we attempt to control all the outcomes. 

And then it turns to the way that grace falls upon us, often when we're in our worst moments of self-doubt and self-loathing. 

I don't know about you, but I get that more than I'd like to admit.  I tend to be my own worst critic when it comes to just about everything.  I seldom give myself a break for mistakes or missteps, and as far as showing myself grace--forget it. 

The blackest moments tend to be when I sit with guilt, shame, fear, regret, you name it.  We all have those moments from time to time.  Sometimes it's described as the "dark night of the soul."  

The poet offers up some hope in the midst of that, though.  He leads with the idea of tasting the "sweet essence" of grace even before he talks about the dark moments of doubt, which is simply brilliant to me.  

The last line is the one that gets me, though: "wait with no fear." 

How do you wait for grace when it feels like moving and doing is the only thing you have left to hold on to?  

I have yet to figure that out, to be honest.  And it's fear that most often keeps me from standing still and expecting God to reveal Godself around me and in me. 

What I want to do instead of waiting is to fix all the problems myself.  I want to show everyone (including myself) that I am capable and strong.  I want to tell the story afterward about how I overcame the odds, rose from the ashes, and made something out of nothing. 

But the only One who has ever made something out of nothing would instead desire that I shed my bravado and ask for help.  Or better yet, sit quietly and wait for the grace I long for to come.  

And it does. 

I had never known grace not to arrive, even when I had all but given up hope that it would, which I usually do a lot sooner than I ought to.  

May you find the patience and peace to wait for grace in your blackest moments of doubt and uncertainty. May you let go of your pride and desire to control your outcomes.  And may you let grace fall upon you right when you need it, all the time, forever and ever. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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