Saturday, October 31, 2015

On the Front Porch of Grace

Have you ever pondered something for months only to come the realization that this is something I will think about the rest of my life and still never wholly understand? I’ve been “chewing” on the concept of holiness for over a year now and believe that holiness has much more to do with God’s grace than any of my feeble accomplishments.

As I’ve struggled with this, my thinking keeps coming back to this: if I were to compare the life of holiness to a house, I would pick something like this home.  From a distance it looks inviting and well cared for; in fact, I might even wander a little closer to get a better look. 

As I draw nearer, I want to kick myself.  I’ve been intrigued with the back porch, and now realize there is something much better and bigger on the other side!  What a great place to hang out and relax.   It looks so comfortable—the kind of place I dream of spending the afternoon or even vacation here? I can easily envision taking a nap, a gentle breeze, laughing with friends and family.  If I could have a porch like this, I know that I’d be very content.  I would be comfortable.

In fact, many of us would be satisfied to stay right there on that great porch.  What’s not to like?  Relaxing, comfortable, and room to stretch out. Lazy like a Sunday afternoon.  Ahhhhhh, I feel that nap coming on!  But, you say, “It’s not our house! We haven’t met the owner, so how could we lay claim to their perfect porch?” Surely they wouldn’t mind if I stayed  just a moment or two!  It doesn’t appear that anyone is at home.  A gifted person who has created something this fabulous would surely want me to enjoy it. Right?

This is how I came into the life of grace.  I watched countless people come and go from “a house” that I had admired all my life.  Yet the vast majority were quite satisfied to live on the front porch. As part of my position, I have made more home visits than I can count to persons in our church family. Most every time I have been invited inside to visit or even sit down and make myself at home---even if I drop by unnounced.  The exceptions that I could count on one hand either met me at the door or in the driveway.  One dear woman, who did not have the gift of housekeeping walked me immediately back to my car after her kind husband invited me inside to visit!

Maybe you have figured out by now that I’m attempting to compare the unspeakable, infinite grace of God to a house; not just any house but a huge, welcoming home where -- if we will but enter -- the family inside will welcome us as if they have waited years for our arrival.  This is a home you’ve
driven by more than once and are caught off-guard each time you pass by something that inexplicably draws you.  Maybe you’ve had friends or family enter that house and follow them; or never before have you have seen or heard anything about the house or the occupants but you just have to know why people want to go there. 

The approach to the house is prevenient grace, a term John Wesley would have applied to the drawing of the Holy Spirit before you were ready to accept God’s love.  This is the grace that seeks, woos, chases, pursues you, even knitting you together in your Mother’s womb as Psalm 139 says.  I believe that you can even step on the porch and spend days or even years there without making a move for the door.

Some folks may debate “I found God….” to which I would cry long and loud “BULL!!!!” God never was, is or will be lost, friend.  See Romans 3:10-11; We were the ones who were lost. We couldn’t
find the nose on our face if it weren’t for the grace of God that has pursued us all these years! But God does wait, He watches and pleads for you put your hand up to knock on grace’s door, your fingers don’t even have a chance to recoil before God has flung the door open wide as it will go to receive you.  Yes, unbeknownst to you, He really has been waiting and watching until the very moment that you were ready to ask. When we call out to him, we find that He was indeed there all the time.

Next post, we’ll walk through the door because you are invited inside!