What Does Grace Look Like if God is For us?

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In my last post, I explored some alternatives ways of looking at the reason Jesus died to views that say God is out to get you, out to get a pound of your flesh.  I didn’t mention that another way of saying this is, what if Romans 8 is really true when we are told to imagine that if God is for us, none can be against us?

I thought it might be helpful to take a moment and ask — what does God’s grace look like if we believe God is not, nor ever was, out to get us?  If we trust that God’s first word — as well as God’s middle and last word — is love and inclusion, not rejection and condemnation?

I’d love to hear from you, if you have come to such a place in your spiritual journey, how it has changed your own perspective.  Instead of telling you a direct answer to it myself, I’d like to share a poem with you that reflects my experience & the experience of others I’ve seen be touched by God’s grace.

I hope it blesses you, and is a stepping stone to your own inner healing and peace.

And I’m not just whistling Dixie here.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

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Recovery Festival

Like trumpets of war I heard rough southern drawl

echoing across the pine wood skin

and a fist hammering the untarnished face

of a podium in a storefront southern church.

“Are you saved brother?” he cries,

“The altar is open. Come on down,

we have room for more”.

I remember hearing that cry

amidst thirty verses of “Just as I Am”

feeling my heart pulled like metal scrap to lodestone

though to me it was already clear

Jesus I knew

and Jesus knew me.

 

Yet I found myself

feeling damaged

broken asunder

like glass upon pavement

now adrift on rainbowed pool of oil,

beautifully tragic beyond all cleansing,

by that preacher’s siren song.

 

That was not the day I gazed deep

beneath what others saw,

plunging beneath the waters

salty with tears

and cold with fears

that lay beneath

the splintered mirror

of my soul.

 

It came far later

amidst momma’s scattered boxes,

crates of jewels and receipts

gathering dust

after her manic shopping sprees

revealing my content, as well as their own–

my memories of hiding

little and alone

from the rising tide

her waves of emotion brought

the feeling of hands covering my ears

from shouts that rose

like the rhythmic shaking

of military bombs on Fort Bragg streets

when daddy lifted cups of “special punch”

to his not quite ever parched lips.

 

That salty wetness

rising from my own tears

was my baptism

which cold and crisp

against my skin

woke me anew.

In that moment I knew myself,

and began a long journey to wholeness.

 

His echoing shouts of salvation,

Gospel truth be known,

now taste like ash on my tongue.

His calls causing me to recoil

carrying still with them

the lingering smells of brimstone

hanging like a sulfurous cloud

calling me to my imminent end.

 

I find instead

beneath the wreckage in my soul

piling high as some abandoned lighthouse

rising just like those paint brushes, glue sticks, and cut fabric

borne of her creative projects dropped mid-stroke

and get rich quick schemes gone wrong.

 

Beneath an edifice that feels as high as the long-leaf pine,

I find

shuddering

squirming

miraculously alive

a sparkling treasure as yet unseen

more precious than the fabled gold

I am told

pirates left hidden off Carolina coast.

Shining like such

long-lost piles of coins

found resting

upon Ocracoke or Hatteras beach

lit by summer sun on Atlantic waves

I find him,

radiant and shining —

a baby boy

somehow untarnished amidst the pain,

unbroken as when he emerged

aglow with the Spirit’s bright fire,

Her original blessing still upon him

like dew resting on the cool grass

of Appalachian hillside in spring.

 

That plunge beneath

one fateful April morn

led me to this fated find

the treasure of myself

not shattered beyond all fixing

like he with thunderous voice proclaimed

but

myself as I was before being broken,

as when Spirit breathed me forth

glistening with the starry hues

of divine essence

my only swaddling clothes

floating into daylight from Her

like some glistening bubble lifted on wind

from sudsy tub.

 

So, keep your words of salvation, sister.

I’ll go with recovery anyday,

recovering who I am

and have always been

in my Maker’s eye

as I learn

to make true the maxim

that “the eye with which I see Godde

is the eye with which Godde seems me”

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6 thoughts on “What Does Grace Look Like if God is For us?

  1. I have always been taught and believed that God is for me and therefore no other power can succeed against me. Amen!

  2. Keith Osterberg says:

    Like many Christians (perhaps most) I had been indoctrinated in the concept of substitutionary atonement. Jesus had to “pay the price,” “suffer the judgement,” “take on the sins of the world” in order for us to avoid judgment and death. And that little piece of indoctrination went hand-in-hand with the one about “Salvation through Christ alone.”
    It wasn’t until I was older that I examined and wrestled with what is implied by those ideas. First off, it places God in a very unGodlike position of either not loving us all and therefore not forgiving everyone, or of loving us all and wanting to forgive us all but not having the power or authority or gumption to do it because “the Law (the wages of sin is death, you must die for your sins)” renders God unable to grant Grace to whomever God chooses. Neither of those concepts of God jibed with how I perceived God to be, so I needed a new paradigm.
    What I’ve finally come to believe is that God loves us all, grants us all Grace, and that there are many paths to God and many rooms in God’s house in which we can abide. It is not my place to judge the path of others, nor is it my place to put limits on God’s grace. Christianity is the path I follow (and if I am honest, it is probably largely because it is the tradition I was brought up in) and it works for me, but it is hubris to assert that only Christians are “saved.” For me, the act of resurrection doesn’t have to mean a physical body walked out of that tomb. The real miracle to me is that the lives of Jesus’ followers were transformed. THAT to me is resurrection. And it is that resurrection that allows me to redefine existence, to look at the day Jesus was nailed to a cross and call it “Good Friday.” The power elite of the Roman empire could kill Jesus, and yet his spirit and radical theology of love lives on.

  3. brother doc says:

    Micah, you continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Your thoughts are powerful, expressive, and speak so clearly of your faith–and mine. Thank you, And your are not a bad poet either! Blessings.

  4. Micah, thanks for asking. Mine is a very long story. Nutshell version: Recovery ongoing, more scales falling off these eyes despite the presbyopia! Your blog and the referenced sites are pulling a few more off. 🙂

  5. Eric Schramm says:

    Where did that poem come from? Can I share it?

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