Ann: We've talked about the forgiveness aspect of grace. It can be tough to receive at first. In Les Miserables, Jean Valjean was rendered stupefied by it at first. As the story progressed, grace began to permeate who he was and how he treated others. He opened himself to God. Jean Valjean dared to live as a forgiven man. I encourage you men and women reading this to dare to live as a forgiven child of God. Allow healing to enter your soul.
The healing peace of Grace is a delivery from bondage. I was delivered yet there was a knife still in my stomach. Receiving forgiveness from Ben was healing for me. It enabled me to begin to be still. Being still and staying in the pain is a key element of receiving grace. This seems counterintuitive. Won't accepting grace be warm and fuzzy and peaceful all the time? The short answer is no.
You might recall some of these words from our 4/444. In her book, Welcome to My Country, Lauren Slater shares about the dynamic of first being a patient in a mental health facility followed by returning later as a therapist. She shares these profound words about stillness in her healing journey,
...'health does not mean making the pains go away. I don't believe they ever go away. I have not healed so much as learned to sit still and wait while pain does its dancing work, trying not to panic or twist in ways that makes the blades tear deeper, finally infecting the wounds.'
The image this creates in my mind, is even if the knife is still in my stomach, when I am in my deepest pain, sometimes all I can do is sit still in front of God. There is no pleading, praying, no twisting; just falling to my knees and being loved by my Father. In those moments getting out of pain and restoring my marriage take a back seat, where they rightly belong to merely allowing myself to be present and loved by my God.
Ben: Healing for me was a transformation of my relationship with God too. I heard in my church circles that we were a 'once saved always saved' church. I believe God's grace is outlandish and scandalous and beyond what we can imagine. If we are in his hand for a moment we are in his hand.
But the overemphasis on this thought led me to be passive in my faith where I didn't surrender to God's pursuit daily. I can read scripture and my heart still not be open to God. I have learned I need to have heart and soul time with Jesus daily. I need Jesus in the form of receiving Grace daily. Living that out daily grew and tenderized my soul.
I don't always remember, but I seek to remember, that without grace I don't even take my next breath. Without God I just disintegrate. I un-integrate. I fall apart.
As I learned to daily receive grace I had a greater capacity to let God's love flow through me, let it flow through us, to restore our relationship, to develop more intimacy in our lives.
My quotidian experience with Grace changed my relationship with Ann. On our good days our souls are stilled and His Grace flows through us like a cascade of water through a sponge.