So if what you get by God’s grace is so much better than the “blessings” we’ve been praying and asking for, what is it? What do we get? I don’t know what you will get, but here’s what I got:
- LOVE. Love. Love. Love. It really shouldn’t be any wonder, because 1 John 4 tells us that “God is love.” Love is not an attribute of God’s, and love is not something He does, but Love is Who He Is. It is His very substance and being. When you sit still in God’s presence and ask Him to meet with you, it is love which comes seeping under the door and through the cracks in the caulking and flowing in any other way it can get in until it floods the room and carries you away. LOVE.
And love that doesn’t end, that every time you think you have found the limit of it, you find there’s a new depth to it, or another facet of it, another way it illuminates your life and brings joy to your world. I don’t even know how to explain it, these levels, these depths, these ways you continually discover love. You become like a miser sitting with your hoard of gold, letting it tumble through your fingers, only it’s love that you’re running through your mind … God loves me incredibly, endlessly, overwhelmingly, completely, amazingly, strongly, deeply, everlastingly, transformatively, powerfully … on and on it goes, just love, love, love — and love that will carry you and assure you it is carrying everyone else, too. (Isaiah 9:3 says that because of Christ we rejoice “as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” Yes, yes, yes! We are telling all our riches in Jesus and rejoicing in His love!)
You find love for you flowing down from God, love deep and rich enough to flow out of you onto others.
- Joy. What a giddy sensation it is to discover that YOU are the object of divine love. To find that love has made His home in you and will never leave you. This is a joy that doesn’t depend on any circumstances, a joy which is your foundation even when times are hard, even when things hurt. You really can be happy just to be alive. It’s like being in love all the time … because you are in love. It’s joy. Joy. Joy.
- Peace. When you come to experience the love of Christ, you come to understand that He holds you so dear, He will let nothing befall you which will ultimately harm you. He will use even the things which do harm you to bring you to a deeper knowledge of His love. At least, this is how I have experienced it. Whenever a gnawing worry crops up, I hear His voice. “Do you trust me? Can you trust me?” And I do, and I can. If you can trust that no matter what, He is holding you fast, you will have peace, no matter what. What a promise!
- Compassion. In my former loser life, I was like old Scrooge, self-contained and solitary as an oyster. There were few people I loved, and fewer with whom I cared to share any close day-to-day relationship. I was closed-off and uncaring about the mass of mankind. But when you experience God’s love in a real and intimate way, it opens your heart to long for others to receive that love, too! I now find that God’s heart for others is pouring into me, and I have so much more patience, kindness and gentleness with others.
- Freedom from fear. Looking back at my loser life from this place of peace and security in my Beloved, I can more easily see that so much of life before was motivated by fear. Fear of course that people would find out what a loser I was, fear that I would piss my husband off, fear that we would run out of money, fear that America was a generation away from complete godlessness and bankruptcy. Some were reasonable fears, others not so much. But now, firmly founded in the love of Christ … none of these fears bother me. No fears bother me. It’s all love, joy and peace here … what is to fear?
- Grace. God gives you His unmerited favor … and you find yourself able to extend the same to others. Realizing that God has given me a big break, I am now able to give others a break, too. (This is not always as great as it sounds. My poor husband, I think, would like it much better if I were quite as crabby and sick of humanity as he is. But I don’t have the energy for any of that complaining and shouting and hand-waving. My energy is all reserved for loving, approving and including. Grace-giving. Even to him!)