Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Amazing Grace

There are days that I want to tell you how amazing grace is, through my own eyes, from my own perspective as a recipient of the unmerited gift, and I think there's a space for that. I know there is. Because I know how much I value the stories of others who have shared their stories of grace with me. It reminds me both that grace is real and that grace is amazing. But these are, inherently, our grace stories and not really stories about grace herself. And I think there's a place for that, too.

I think there has to be a place where we just talk about grace without putting so much skin on it. Because God is so far beyond our experience of Him, grace more amazing than we could ever know, and it doesn't do it justice to have it always confined by our own stories. To have it always held in our own hands. Sometimes, we just have to talk about grace as the unimaginable, incomprehensible, abstract idea that it truly is, a measure of an immeasurable God. 

It's true about grace, and it's true about nearly everything else that we experience of God. There are always two ways to tell the story - through our eyes or through our wildest imaginations. In the real, tangible expressions of the way God works, for real, in our real lives and in the fantastical, mysterious wonderment of a story that takes place outside of words.

We hold one story in our left hand and the other in our right and spend our entire lives trying to figure out how the two are supposed to come together, like some theological maypole dance that has us twisting and turning around the central spire of our stories, wrapping both narratives around them in a way that sometimes looks pretty and sometimes looks tangled and just sort of blows in the wind, reminding us, at least, of the dance. 

These narratives cross paths from time to time - a glimpse of grace here, a taste of it there. True grace peeking out from behind our experience of it. Amazing grace picking up the colors of our own stories. It feels almost whimsical, almost free. 

But our lives were never meant to be teased or tangled or tossed. They weren't meant to be these two threads wrapped together, one around the other around the very heart of who we are. They weren't meant to be taken, one in our left and and the other in our right, and danced together in a way that sometimes looks pretty. Threads that are wound together this way will never be strong enough to hold one story, let alone two. Threads just wrapped around our stories can never fully hold amazing grace. 

The true story of grace requires that these threads be not tangled, but tended. Not wrapped, but woven together.

These stories, these stories that are so central to our understandings of ourselves and our understandings of God and our understandings of ideas so amazing as grace, cannot ever be first one story and then another, first our story and then God's, first through our eyes and then beyond our imaginations; they have to be both at the same time. 

They have to be stories that put skin on our wildest imaginations and at the same time, tear that very flesh away to reveal something completely unimaginable, if only it were not already so real. They have to be stories that tell of a grace that is amazing without losing sight of amazing grace. They have to be stories that are our stories, because we only ever have our stories, in the very same breath that they are God's stories.

There's no tension between storytellers; we are telling His stories as He is telling ours. And we are telling the story of His telling our story as we tell our story through Him, just as He is telling the story of our telling His story as He tells His story through us. And these stories, these two unimaginable stories, are woven together...

So that on those days when our stories feel weak, when it feels like maybe the thread of our own narrative is falling apart, there's another story there to hold us. And on those days when maybe even grace doesn't feel so amazing....

Woven together. Our story and His. Two fragile threads come together to hold one amazing narrative. It's a story of grace. 

Amazing grace. 

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