grace by which i stand, and life to the max

Lord, the feelings are not the same
I guess I’m older
I guess I’ve changed
But oh, how I wish it had been explained
That as you’re growin’
You must remember

That nothin’ lasts
Except the grace of God
By which I stand in Jesus
I know that I would surely fall away
Except for grace
By which I’m saved

Lord, I remember that special way,
I vowed to serve you,
when it was brand new.
But like Peter, I can’t even watch and pray
one hour with you,
And I bet, I could deny you too.

But nothing lasts, except the grace of God
by which I stand, in Jesus.
I’m sure that my whole life would waste away
except for grace, by which I’m saved.
But nothing lasts, except the grace of God
by which I stand, in Jesus.
I know that I would surely fall away
except for grace, by which I’m saved.

-Grace by which I stand, Keith Green

I listened to that song yesterday morning. It was a poignant reminder that no matter how close I get to God, my humanity slips through sometimes… and no matter how often I slip, or even fall, God is always there to hold my hand and pick me up, even when I want to give up on myself. Like the song says, nothing lasts except the grace of God. No spiritual high will stay forever. And even if you repent and change your mind, and decide never to go there again… what can you say when you fall again? What about for the tenth time? You repent, again, tell God you’ll change, and beg him for help, again. You beg for forgiveness. Then you look around and see how God treats unworthy sinners who repent. Sometimes I’m faithless, he’s always faithful. Semper Fidelis. When I walk away, he waits eagerly for my return. God is completely unlike an ordinary friend. I want to love like that. I wish I could love him in return that way. One day, when time stops, finity meets infinity, time meets eternity, and death is swallowed up in victory… one day, Jesus Christ will set me free forever from the body of this death.

I guess what I’m trying to say here… is I’m trying to make up for earlier blog entries in which I portrayed myself as having learned my lesson… being complete… anything like that. It’s just that I’ve always read these Christian books where the author explains how they’ve put certain sins behind them and how it looks (to me) like now they live the perfect life. Like they never slip up anymore. In fact, almost like they didn’t do anything wrong… or if they did, it was a long time ago.

That’s why Keith Green’s words yesterday were so gripping. They’re written from the perspective of one who wants so much to live holy and to love God but is aware of his humanity. That’s why I love Romans 7, where Paul expresses his angst at his humanity. Paul and Keith end up in the same place: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ… and Nothing lasts, except the grace of God. Both men, realizing the fallen-ness of this body and longing for the day when fallen-ness will be no more, express the sad reality of now, but worship God for forgiveness and not condemning those who believe. It’s true; the only thing you can be sure of in this life is that God’s love will endure forever. Even if you can’t count on those around you, or even entirely on yourself.  It’s awfulness, the fallen part of this world. One day, though… one day. One day I’ll never mess up again… right? One day I’ll be with God, so I’ll be like him. Meanwhile, I’ll keep growing. May I never grow so much that I am able to make a pretense at perfection. “I used to be a sinner, then God got ahold of me and I never sinned again.” Hah. I wish it was true.

Sometimes I feel like Christian act like that. Like we can’t stand the possibility of admitting to struggling with any kind of sin. “I used to be this way, but I’m not anymore.” We love to say that.. but what kind of strength does it take to say… I *am* struggling now with this. What kind of trust does it take?

John says if we walk in the light, like Jesus is in the light, his blood cleanses us from all sin… and that we have fellowship with one another. I’m not advocating continuing in sin… don’t ever imagine that. I’m advocating that we encourage the fainthearted and help the weak. And that we let other people in. I guess that’s kinda what this blog is. Me letting you, the reader, in to my struggles. Admitting imperfection and that I’m not perfect. I wanna be, though… but it ain’t happening in this life.

Perfection, though, isn’t this holy state where you walk around saying “Bless thee, mine brother,” or just sit around and pray all day. Jesus was perfect, and he did nothing of the kind. He loved. He got angry at people who “made my Father’s house a den of thieves!” He went around from place to place, having meals with tax collectors and sinners. He even had a common job, working with his earthly dad as a carpenter. He wasn’t perpetually in fear of imperfection, like the pharisees. In fact, when the pharisees tried telling him that he needed to be more stand-offish and “pure,” and not to touch those wicked sinners and for God’s sake stop healing people on the Sabbath, He just did it anyway. Holiness isn’t death. It’s life, and life abundant. It’s not “THOU SHALT NOT.” It’s Jesus. It’s life to the maximum.

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