God's Amazing Grace

I've always struggled to comprehend God's grace, mostly because I struggle to believe that God's grace extends to me. 

To be fair, I have no problem sharing with others that God's amazing and never-ending grace is always for them.  I believe that with my whole heart. 

But when it comes to believing that I am covered in that same grace, I have a hard time with it.  This is partly because it's hard to shake the notion of a judgemental and angry God at times, but it's mostly because I know too much about myself. 

Many of us have the same kind of struggle.  We are quick to believe that God is all about showering other people with grace and that they should be filled with joy because of this fact.  But when it comes to ourselves, we don't experience it the same way most of the time. 

Novelist and public theologian Marilynne Robinson once wrote: 
I experience religious dread whenever I find myself thinking that I know the limits of God's grace, since I am utterly certain it exceeds any imagination a human being might have of it.  God does, after all, so love the world. 
This quote resonated with me at a profound level.  "Religious dread" is an apt way to describe the feeling I get when I struggle to believe that God's grace is big enough to envelop even me.  

One of the most impactful things we can learn, if we are willing to learn it, is that even though we are not condemned by God, we tend to preemptively condemn ourselves.  

I heard or read this many years ago, and it seems appropriate here: God doesn't send anyone to hell; they choose it. 

Now, I could fill a great many Devos with my thoughts on hell, but suffice it to say, I believe that many of us choose to put ourselves through hell right here on earth instead of embracing the grace of God that is ours without condition.  

And what does this look like when we struggle to believe God's grace is for us?  

When we turn inward, condemning ourselves, it can manifest as depression, anxiety, anger, fear, dread, self-harm, and a host of other nasty things.  It steals our joy and can render us bitter and sad.  

But if we are willing to embrace for ourselves the truth about God's grace that we believe for others, it can change our lives.  It's much easier said than done, but if we learn to practice self-compassion and mindfulness regarding how we view ourselves concerning God, we can take the first step.  

Offer yourself forgiveness today when you tell yourself you don't deserve it.  Choose to believe that for today, you have all the grace you need.  You may have to remind yourself again tomorrow, but that's all right. 

You may not deserve the kind of grace God gives freely, but it is yours nonetheless.  Accept it.  Be joyful.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.  


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