When Grace Spills

I once heard a man say that a lack of patience was really a lack of love, and that rather than praying for more patience, I should ask God to fill me with more love.  I was immediately offended by this idea, because as a parent, I love my children, wildly… I just needed more patience.

But the more these words tumbled through my cells, the deeper they penetrated my heart, and I have come around to a place of full agreement.  Patience is a product of love and where the well of love is deep, so too will be the reserve of patience.  After all, patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and the Spirit is love.

Love (and any of its fruit) cannot be contrived, learned from a book, or teased out of an emotional pep-talk-to-self; trust me, I’ve tried this for years and years – if this worked, I would be an expert.  Willing there to be more love in my heart, is like waiting for my pine tree to grow dollar bills.  I can desire it, but life doesn’t work that way.

However, as I gain increasing insight into the Father’s immeasurable affection for me, my own love-tank fills and spills over into my experience with my children.  It’s like all that grace just can’t be contained in me alone and patience begins to come naturally, even when a child may bust out into unrestrained freakiness.

It’s almost like I don’t mind the ear-blowing tantrums and frustrating explosions of chaos, because grace has fitted me with new glasses and all I see is love when I look at this tense, drooling, red-faced two-year-old who desperately needs to consume the entire bottle of (ahem, real) maple syrup himself, thank you very much.

Love colors everything beautiful, even when the object of my affection is in the throes of something ugly; after all, this is how God responds to ugly: He loved me first, before I deserved it.

It was His love that made me beautiful on the inside and it is this power-love spilling over in me that will produce a spectacular harvest of Spirit-fruit in my heart towards others, regardless of how they live or behave.

When grace spills over like this it nourishes good things.

Heavy Rain

Deuteronomy 28 is amazing; it’s about as awesome as Deuteronomy 27 is terrifying.  Check this out:

“If you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God…  The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.”

In John chapter 3 we read that “[God] gives the Spirit without measure.”

And yet, how often am I satisfied with scraps from the table of pietistic religiosity and the anemic fruit of moral effort?  How readily have I been satisfied with a good parking spot when all along God has desired to bless all the work of my hands?

And yet, what is required to receive this overflowing abundance is all of me: surrendered in obedience.

 “…the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”  (John 3:19-21)

It occurred to me that “wicked things” can also be religious work done in my own effort; strategic plans for good and upright attempts to live well in my own strength are still “the work of darkness” (the evil of pride and self-sufficiency).

Whatever I do that has not been “carried out in God” is not a work of the light.

This surrender to the Light is daily, always-kind-of-stuff, like breathing… when living life in the Spirit, it’s really non-negotiable. Dwelling and abiding in Christ (hearing and obeying God’s voice) opens the treasury of heaven above me: and I begin to hear the rumble of heavy rain in the distance.