Sanitized Grace

No one said this was going to be easy.  I know we’d like to believe it, but it’s just not true.  There are going to be hard days.  Days when every task seems insurmountable.  Days when the calendar ticks in stop-watch fashion and you will feel pressed and consumed and wanting to lay down on the floor and just wish it all away. 
There will be days when this hard following after Christ, this hard knee bending in the mire of your mess, will seem futile and you will close your eyes many nights with “What’s the point” etched on the backs of their lids.   The fire of your First Love, that moment when salvation seared its brand onto your heart seems but a faint glow of barely-there embers and you don’t have the breath left to rekindle the flame.
No one said this was going to be easy. 
And wouldn’t you just like to conjure up the good and the beautiful.  The perfection and the pleasant.  Wave a magic wand and find the peace and joy you’ve been longing for. Goodness knows you’ve done enough, worked hard enough, said enough to warrant this magical goodness. Right?
Here’s the thing though, there were no magical, mystical moments at the Cross, just deep and abiding grace drenched in the blood of our Saviour.  The gruesomeness of His crucifixion was His beautiful gift to us.  His ripped-open flesh pressed hard onto roughened beam,  the iron that tore the flesh and tendon and the thorns that gouged deep onto His brow, this is our answer.  And, unless we understand the cost of this grace we will forever be steeped in anger and disappointment and searching for joy within our own power – and we will never be satisfied.
“How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy and gratitude? Here is how.  You need to be moved by the sight of what it cost to bring you home.” – Tim Keller – The Prodigal God
We need to be “moved by the sight.”  And when I close my eyes, it’s not the pretty cross on the chain that I wear around my neck, or the sanitized pictures that moves me.  It’s the vision of His suffering, the struggle for air and His guttural howl to His father, “Why have you forsaken me?”

So why is it then, that when my day turns on me, I can’t keep my focus on the cross? Why do I turn my back on it and leave it behind me?  Why can I not see the gift in His sacrifice and cling to the fact that He knows.  He just knows that this isn’t easy.
The beauty of that day, so long ago, on a hill called Golgotha is what will make the fire in my heart burn brighter than the day I first encountered Jesus.  I need to see the broken body of my Saviour for what it was, a beautiful sacrifice.  My vision of the cross needs to come into clear focus with the lens of Christ.  That He would die for me, suffer in such  a way for me, is the grace that my heart yearns for. 
Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, has endured this passion for me and what have I to fear?
No one said it was going to be easy. 

No one said you had to go at it alone either.   

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