The Grace That Changes Us
Years ago I had the bright idea that I would give my wife dancing lessons as a Valentine’s gift. “What a great idea!” I thought and she agreed that this was one of my better gift choices. It was romantic, fun, and relatively inexpensive. I had never had dancing lessons before. I’ve had golf lessons, driving lessons, shooting lessons, swimming lessons, cooking lessons, and sailing lessons but never dancing lessons.
It was a little odd. The dance instructor danced with us. She kind of got up next to us and helped us with the movement, foot placement, and tempo. The three of us were waltzing around the room. There were painted images of feet on the floor to show where your feet should be going (kind of like a map of dance steps). I looked down constantly at those feet on the floor and placed my shoes in each of the images all around the floor. I placed my feet exactly where they were supposed to be in order to waltz. Finally, at one point in the dance lesson the instructor gave me (not my wife, whose feet did not always match the painted map on the floor) this helpful feedback. She said, “Although your feet are in the right spot, you lack grace.” Oh really, I thought.
Since then I have not wasted any more money on dance lessons or golf lessons, but I do continue to get shooting instruction. I can hit the mark pretty darn well with a bullet but that’s neither here nor there. Those dance lessons were in 1993. What I now realize is that I can dance with grace and without grace. And I want grace. You can know the right thing and even do the right thing. However, without grace it’s awkward, clumsy, and can even be destructive. We need grace. We need it all the time and in every matter. We need it like oxygen. We need it like we need acceptance, respect, meaning, purpose, and hope. Yes, we need grace a lot.
We need grace to feel secure and be secure about who we are. The apostle Paul said when he wrote to the church in Corinth, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” Many people are afraid to be who they are. Some people don’t know who they are. Most of us are “image managers’ who believe “if people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me.” For Paul, grace made him who he was and what he was. Grace energized him to accomplish what he did.
We need grace to learn from our weaknesses. Paul went on to say to the Corinthians, “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.” A struggle we all live with is our own weaknesses, limits, and constraints. We suffer, we hurt, we fail, we blow it, and we feel bad. We all have weaknesses that we have not overcome. The important thing is to not deny or hide our weaknesses. When we are vulnerable about our insufficiencies it invites people in, helps them to identify with us, and feel comfortable around us. When we find contentment, even while aware of our weaknesses, the anxiety that comes from keeping up a good front vanishes, freeing us to be real. It is grace that enables us to admit our struggles. If you will be honest about your struggles without hiding, God will work in and through a circumstance in a way you will not expect. Your weaknesses will begin to diminish and become strengths. That’s right. Acknowledging weaknesses has a much greater propensity to diminish them, than hiding our weaknesses ever will. This is all possible because of grace.
We need grace for so much more and I’ll write more about our need in the next post. God bless. I welcome your comments.