I wrote this blog quite awhile ago, but it just wasn't falling into place. This morning, I heard a Scripture that gave me new understanding and completed the puzzle I was trying to put together. (Isn't it amazing how the Word and the Spirit work together to do this for us?) So here it is, dusted it off, polished up, and hopefully a little bit clearer.
I have known for years that it is not up to me to make me "good." Which I know is a very good thing, because I will never be able to do that. I have tried. It ain't happening. I can do alright for awhile, but not for very long. The trouble has come for me when I have tried to apply that. How can I let Jesus make me whole, not just after I have messed up, but before? I am still the one making the choices that are good or bad, so....
Lately God has helped me understand he is always offering me grace, in my good moments, and my bad. All I have to do is take it, and then realize it's all from him. I have come to think of it as "Proactive Grace" and "Retroactive Grace." I have needed a LOT of retroactive grace in life and have happily accepted it. I have received a lot of proactive grace also, but I have just recently realized it!! It has completely transformed how I think about my walk with Christ!
To illustrate: One rainy morning (in a string of many) in the fall, I announced to the children that before we started school, we would make a special trip out to go through the nearby Starbucks drive-thru for a pumpkin latte and kiddie drinks of their choice. They opted to get one hot chocolate and one carmel apple cider and split them at home. We brought them into the house so we could pour them into separate cups before they had even sampled a sip. Well, you can see where this is going....
Reed received proactive grace in this situation when he placed his cup firmly upon the table. Ashton received retroactive grace after she set her cup halfway on the table and it toppled to the floor. Sometimes grace comes in the form of a fabulous lid which stays in place upon impact. This day it did not, but rather in a towel and few comforting words.
Both Reed and Ashton know how to place a drink on the table, and each have done so many times with great success. And there have been a few times when they haven't. Each time it has been grace that has made it right.
Titus 2:11-14 offered an even greater lightbulb to me today, helping me see this proactive grace in new understanding. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." The grace I have claimed that has cleaned up my mess so many times has taught me there is a better way. I can say "No" to ungodliness. I have been redeemed and purified. All that really does make me eager to do good!! I want to proactively take hold of his grace that makes me whole.
However, sometimes I don't quite get the cup on the table.
And it spills.
And God is right there with his grace, ready to clean it up.