The free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
- a divinely given talent or blessing.
- the condition or fact of being favoured by someone.
You may have heard it described more simply as 'Getting what you don't deserve'. As I think about advent while working on a body of work I've titled Infinite Grace, the magnitude of God's grace that is described in the gospel reverberates and overwhelms me.
This body of work explores the tension and relationships between soul, spirit, truth, emotion and the physical. I feel frustrated because sometimes my emotions don't well reflect what I know to be true. In fact, often my emotions describe the very opposite and it's difficult to say why. I should be bursting with joy knowing that God gave his son, Jesus, into this world to die in our place, knowing that just by believing in him we can be forgiven of all sin and have a friendship with God. Truth states that because of Jesus, I'm welcomed to be part of God's family - to be his child! I know this and yet sometimes I just feel bad inside and it manifests physically; I can't breathe. I can't sleep. My heart races. The cause of these emotions can be known or unknown to me but because the truth never changes, my spirit knows that no matter what circumstance I face I can be at peace, I can have joy and I can have freedom. Jesus assures us in the gospel of John: "...in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." So why do I feel downcast?
When truth and emotion are at odds in this way, tension builds. It's very confusing because emotions are real, they're true in their existence. If I'm not careful new thoughts build on the emotions and their destination is not truth. You feel this way because you're weak. You have little faith. You've messed up. You're never going to be ok. You're no use. You're too far gone. You're unfix-able. You deserve it. You can't do anything. You're a failure.
These thoughts are not a straight forward battle because they cannot all be dismissed as outright lies. After all, I am weak and I have messed up. Unlike the whole truth of the gospel, these thoughts tie easily to the negative emotions I already carried inside and as they do they bring increase, doubt and become very heavy indeed. The key to freedom lies in realising these internal thoughts which have built homes in emotion may on occasion speak some truth but they certainly do not tell the whole truth! They fail to mention the full fact that yes, we are weak but this is not a bad thing for God tells us his power is made perfect in weakness! And the voice that reminds us that we have failed omits the fact that God's mercies are new every day.
Somehow by grace God carries me to the other side of these internal storms, untying lies and deceit from emotion and strengthening my spirit within me. The conflict isn't easy and I wonder if it will ever really stop while I live in this earthly body of dust.
The wonder of advent and the gospel strikes hard as I consider these ongoing internal battles. My weakness and humanity more glaring than ever and yet God responds to our shortcomings with unending grace. He chose to save us and he chooses to use us. He's fully aware of how weak and easily swayed we are. He sees us tripping over constantly whether by action or internal musing yet he never gives up on us, rather he gives us himself.
Immanuel" (which means "God with us").
- Matthew 1:23
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Matthew 28:18-20