I taught the lesson on Grace last night at my Celebrate Recovery meeting. I heard this story on a podcast for the same lesson and adapted it for the group. And I’d like to share it with you.
There is this girl that went on a journey. She goes walking on a path, trying her best to be a good person. Life was hard sometimes but over all life is good.
And then she comes to a fork in the road. And she had to make a choice.
One way is clear and easily passable.
The other road seems to be less traveled and on the surface looks hard. She has to decide which way to go.
There is a sign that says This Way to Please God and the other sign says This Way to Trust God. Hmmm, she thinks, well I want to make God happy so I’m going to continue on the path to please God.
She starts walking down that road, and she comes a house with a sign on the door that says ‘striving to be all that God wants me to be’ YES!, I made it. That sounds pretty good. So she goes inside. And all the people there were happy and welcome her and say ‘it’s go good to see you’. And then they go off to do other things. ‘Hmmm, I’m not sure how this works so I’ll just watch what they are doing.’
After the first how are you doing, they are not really engaging with her. Some disappeared for a little while and then came back. She notices the happy exterior, smiling when looked at but when no one is looking, they were not smiling. She looks a little closer and then she notices that everyone has masks on. What she is seeing isn’t really who they are but the idea that they have to do to please God.
So many times I have followed that thinking and I strive to be everything that God wants me to be.
I have gotten caught up because my basic belief system is that I am not loveable and that I am not enough. So I must perform for people to love me and I must perform for God to love me. And so I do. I try to please people and make people like me. And I try to please God.
We live in space where everything has rules and checking off boxes. I try to live by the do’s and don’ts. But I find myself falling short.
I had rules at home growing up. Like, you have to be home when the Church bells ring. Or Did anyone else have Hewho for dinner? Well Hewho in my house was he who is hungry fixes it themselves and cleans up after. And there unspoken rules too. Like not talking about certain things.
Rules at school. As someone who had learning disabilities, I learned to keep up by cheating. And I was good at it because I never got caught. But I was falling short.
Rules at work. I have always worked in places that I help create processes and create rules on how to handle situations. But I make mistakes and I fall short.
Rules with friendships. Helping to fix problems. Trying to meet everyone’s needs and pleasing them. I have fallen short there too by getting overly involved.
And then there is God’s rules, of going to church and following the 10 commandments. Maybe if I prayed enough, God would be pleased. Maybe if I checking off boxes of His law, God will be pleased. But all of these things come down to me performing well enough, how good I could be as a person. Me striving to be all that God wants me to be.
I check off the boxes and following the rules. I try to live by the do’s and don’ts in all parts of my life. But I find myself falling short.
No matter how well I preformed, I was standing in a room of good intentions. I was standing in a room that I would always let God down. I would let others down and I would let myself down. Because I cannot live up to perfection. I’m tired of failing and I just can’t keep this mask on.
Hmmmmm, what did the sign say back at the fork in the road? Oh yeah, This Way to Trust God. So I’m going back to the fork in the road and take that road. I’m don’t really know what this means but I am going to go down this path of trusting God.
I start going down this new path. It’s less traveled and there are roots to trip on and overgrown brush in the way but i continue. And I start to feel like I don’t have to white knuckle life anymore because I am just trusting God and trusting His word that all things work together for my greater good.
I travel down the road and come to clearing and I find a new house. The sign on the door that reads “Living out who God says I am.” WOW. So I go in that house. And I am again greeted with people. They are not hiding. Some are smiling and some aren’t. But you can see there is genuine joy in their heart. Even in their sorrow, or pain or current trial, their heart is full of love and joy.
And then she realizes she is in the room of GRACE. They didn’t care if I followed the rule or checked off all the boxes. They cared that I just trusted God on my journey. It didn’t matter how good or bad I was.
This journey takes humility. The humility of taking off that mask. To show the world who we really are.
That is what it takes to get into this room of grace. We have already
- stepped out of denial
- realizing we have a mask on
- we have surrendered
- made a fearless inventory
- we confess that inventory
- we made a list of persons we harmed
- we made a list of those to forgiven who have harmed us.
And now we are in the room of grace.
Now let’s look at the word GRACE.
G is for God’s Gift. Grace is Gods freely given gift. You can’t buy it, and you don’t get it by check off boxes.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:9
We do this every time we introduce ourselves. Hi I’m Mary grateful believer in Jesus Christ and I struggle with codependency. I gladly now boast about my weaknesses.
In the past I preformed for God to love me and today I have a relationship with Him. He gave me strength to make amends and offer forgiveness.
The R in grace is for Received by faith.
No matter how hard we work, we cannot earn our way into heaven. Only by professing our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior can we experience His grace and have eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not for yourselves, it is a gift of God not by works so that no one can boast.
Romans 5:2 Through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope for the glory of God.
I kinda love that word boast. So the bible is pretty clear on those couple of passages. Don’t boast about what you are doing but rather boast about our weakness and hope.
The A in grace is for: We are Accepted by God’s love. God loved you and me while we were still sinning.
Romans 5:8 God demonstrates his own love for us in this. While we were still sinners Christ died for us.
Ephesians 2:5 reminds us that though we are spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.
I don’t know about you but I know that there have been times that I didn’t feel that I deserve God’s love But here is the good news, HE accepts me in spite of myself. He sees all my failures and loves me anyway. And the same is for you as well.
The C in grace is Christ paid the price.
Jesus died on the cross so that all our sins are forgiven. He paid the price. Over 2000 year ago, He died for me. For sins that had not even made yet but He knew I would. He sacrificed Himself for us so that we may be with Him forever. Jesus paid the price and separated us from our sins as far as the east is from the west.
When we accept Jesus dying on the cross we are made a new creation. We can rely on Gods strength and power to enable us to forgive those who have hurt us. We can set aside our selfishness and speak the truth in love. We focus only on our part in making aments or offering our forgiveness.
Ephesians 1:7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace.
The final letter in grace is E. God’s grace is an Everlasting gift.
Once you accept that Jesus Christ is your lord and savior, God’s grace is forever.
2 Thessalonians 2:16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loved us and through his grace he gave us a good hope and encouragement that continues forever.
I’d like to close with some final thoughts. That no matter what step you are on. No matter where you are tonight. Know that God loves you. Choose the path of Trusting God that leads you to “Living out who God says you are” and know that you are standing in the room of grace. That you do not have to check off boxes or perform for his love. Just trust him. Know that in your weakness, He is strong.
Thank you for letting me share.
My journey to serenity continues…