As I reflect on my time in Canada I am struck by how our Western world loves its packaging. Everything is branded, labeled and advertised. We value based on superficial jargon and testing tied to special focus groups. We fall into convenience and believe we have found what is needed for a good life — and — in this context we miss grace.
As an example of grace, I find it ridiculous to think that someone can package Canadian air and send it to a smog filled planet for profit ( it really is being done!). Yet in so many ways I believe that religious people have done that to Daddy God’s grace.
Grace is like the atmosphere we live in. The air in the atmosphere permeates our surroundings. It invades every space on the planet. It gets dissolved into the oceans and follows small nooks and grannies deep into the earth. We live and move within its embrace. It is ubiquitous and therefore often ignored.
Grace is not designed to be bottled or packaged any more than our air. Every time we bottle air for use, we are identifying that we are in extreme circumstances and will have limited freedom. We move into risk when we move into the unnatural position of depending on bottled air. We have stepped out of a healthy living environment and into something that cannot sustain us. That is, a world hostile to our existence -such as interplanetary space.
The unique difference between grace and the air we breathe is that grace reaches everywhere! It has no limits. So the metaphor gets shifted to one of living in the beauty of a Canadian lakeside cabin. I choose to wear an oxygen mask and carry a tank when there is no physiological need for it. I begin to define myself by my tank of air! I would essentially be expressing a disturbing aspect of fear, of a thought process disconnected from the immediate beauty and health of the crystal clear air awaiting my next breath. And, so many do just that. Grace is crafted and defined. Grace is measured and allocated meticulously. Ignorantly, many are methodically distanced from grace. It seems that it is saved in its packaged essence for only the few. Those who are willing to carry their mask and air tank!
Grace is designed by our God as that which envelopes us and gives us life. It energizes hope and breathes laughter and every good thing. Grace is a fragrance that opens the imagination to hidden possibilities and delights the heart with intimacy and presence. Grace pushes back darkness and creates an environment of trust. Grace sees eye to eye and heart to heart. It whispers sweet encouragement and shouts glorious victory. It enables and releases. It empowers and fulfills. It carries us into life and then celebrates the wonder of our accomplishments.Grace opens life and healing in circumstances which to our eyes and to all intents and purposes would appear impossible. Grace reaches into the vile and the downtrodden ugliness of our messed up world and releases a perpetrator from his prison. Grace embraces the victim flooded with rage and bitterness and transforms shock into wonder. Grace sneaks behind the tightest doors and fortresses and brings in the fragrance of tenderness and the reality of safely being known. Grace is God in action. Grace can not be separated from Him as He is Spirit and He is the Spirit of Grace. Essentially God – very God.
Jesus mysteriously created a reality where everything is paid for. Ridiculous grace freely opens all and everything to each of us. Our Daddy God has a generosity that no one can fathom. While pouring out the wonder of life upon us He awaits each one of us in our journey of discovery. He waits for a surprised exclamation when we find that all the good we have ever had was only His invitation to know loving freedom within the context of relationship. If I live, I breathe and so take in the wonder of grace. I may do it ignorantly, never giving thought to the mystery of that which sustains my life. But never-the-less it does. Whether I have prayed prayers or have shrunk deep into silence, I have always been invited to know grace.
So, I would invite us all to stop trying to corral grace. To cease the furious drive to contain and manage something that God set free to be wild and gloriously extravagant. We are called to step into Him who is Life. Grace is Life. So I embrace grace with a shout of ridiculous joy. I run as someone bound, now set gloriously free. Free to dance, to be alive, to look into other’s eyes and celebrate the wonder of being. I place no limit on grace because He has no limits. I see each person not for what they present but for what grace promises them. I see them not as hopeless but as treasures that are already being softened by the mystery of grace. I see circumstances as vehicles that crack the hardness of barriers and walls to let in the mercy of healing grace. Hope springs to life when finally I see that grace is my champion – that which I have always longed for. Grace is a wonderful Daddy God dressed for the encounter of an occasion with me!