I am a work of grace

I am a work of grace.
As His grace is at work in me,
So I am empowered
To do His work –
Not a labour under Adam’s curse
But a labour of love,
Always bearing fruit.
In my imperfection
His grace is magnified.
In my obedience and love
His grace is glorified.
He only ever meets me
In His grace, and by His grace
He loves me as I really am.
But His grace is more
Than a way to be one with Him –
His grace changes me,
Shaping me in the form of itself,
Which is the form of the
One who IS Grace, the Son,
Full of grace and truth.
I am a work of grace,
And what has been begun
Shall be completed,
Then I too, like Him,
Shall be in the form of grace.

Broken:Rebuilt

The little pile of fallen stones-
Broken altar to my pride
And all I had built on the
Foundations You had laid,
Lies there, desolate, fallen,
Frozen in time like a ruin
Of a place utterly brought low.
How ignorant I was to the
Diligent, persistent work
Secretly going on in my soul,
As it grabbed what was freely given
And repurposed it into an
Image of me, subtly mirroring
The work of the Master, but
Remaining a cheap counterfeit-
Standing proud like an
Emperor with no clothes.
I didn’t consciously set out
To build my own monument,
But in the deeper recesses
Of my unconscious desire
The plans were drawn up
And the work commenced
At a continuous rate, as instinctive
As the muscles which control
The heart and lungs, twitching
Without thought or choice.
What grew up there rapidly
Was the fulfilment of desires
Indulged in the absence
Of true grace and humility,
Driven on by a mistaken belief
That I knew grace and
Understood humility.
Only now, when what was built up
Has been unceremonially
Dismantled – shaken apart by
The earthquake of the revelation
Of truth of who I am,
Can I see that I am impoverished
In my knowledge and understanding
Of grace and humility, and as I look
At the ruins of my ruin all I really know
Of these two pillars of virtue
Is that I know that I don’t know
What I need to know –
That which can only come as a gift
From the One who IS grace,
And who models humility
As a natural expression of
His divine identity and image.
It is He who has gone into
The place of my spirit ahead of me.
It is He who has looked at
The conscious desire of my heart
And seen that what was
Under construction was different –
The wrong shape, and was building
Up as a heavy weight which would
Be chained to me as I became
More enslaved to my pride,
And a building too lofty to be safe
From the risk of falling in ruin.
It is He who spoke into my spirit
And caused an earthquake –
Breaking my spirit and shattering
All that is shakeable so that
Only what is true and pure
Might remain for my edification.
He broke me, not to punish me
Or to humiliate me with the
Shameful truth that I had
Built my own idol.
No – He broke me so
He can rebuild me in His image
To reflect His nature.
He broke me to rebuild me in
The shape of true grace.

Shaped for thanksgiving

It is not an end
That I would receive
You, and all the things
You give to me-
The daily blessings,
The sustained life,
My identity, my purpose,
Provision which goes
Way beyond the material
But which always meets
My needs there too.
No, there is an end
Far more glorious
And satisfying which
Can be so elusive
To my misshapen heart
That only revelation
And the experience
Of knowing it true
Would bring to me
The deeper truth
Of the glorifying,
Perfecting, completing
End of how you
Have remade me.
This end is an end
As it is preceded
By your presence,
Your provision,
Your redemption
And sanctification.
At the culmination
Of these things-
At the consummate
Moment of fulfilment,
My heart reaches out
To you in thanksgiving-
The overflow of
Its infilling and the
Perfect end to the
Perfect process which
Confirms that I am a son,
And I have the Son’s life.
As I am shaped like Him,
As I am shaped for You,
So I am, like Him,
Shaped for thanksgiving.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Col 3:17

“Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
Eph 5:20

The Worrier

Her cold still body
Gave no clue as to
The intensity of the
Pressure which so
Violently halted her
Heart, as it burst
Like a pressure cooker
Blowing its valve
Releasing pressure
And with it draining
Away strength until
No pressure meant
No life, dead. Done.
The irony now lost
On the worrier was
That it was the fear
Of her worst fear
That gradually, steadily,
Built up until her
Body gave up being
Constantly on red alert,
And switched off
Realising that a
Mind of fear has
More power than
A body bent on
Playing the part
Of the worrier.
Everyone could see
It coming, even the
worrier, though she
Was unable to change
A defining pattern
Of her life, where
To worry was to
Be alive – to have
Purpose and something
To occupy the otherwise
Banal existence of
Being ‘refined’ like
An emperor with no
Clothes, always chasing,
Never secure, worrying
To feel safe with insecurity.
The eternal weight loss
Diet of brie mixed with
Cholesterol reducing,
Money wasting drinks,
Seasoned with enough
Salt to turn her liver
Into cured pate, and
Pureed into slurry.
Highlighting the blatant
Inconsistency and lack
Of control, as what she
Ate was eating her,
One blocked artery
At a time, until the day
When the perfect storm
Of fat, pressure and
Worry, finally combined
Like a chemical bomb –
Exploding both the
Myths of denial, and
The flesh which tried
To tell her it was all
A ticking time-bomb.
So she got the last thing
She wanted as the
Last thing to happen
In her life, a fitting finale
To the perpetual
Pessimism and fear,
Obsessed with the most
Unimportant things
From her waking hours
Into the long hours
Of the sleepless nights
Lost to worry, and the
Worry of worrying too
Much to sleep!
Rest in peace worrier –
There’s no point
Worrying now, just
Be still in your death
And let the pressure
Be stopped for us too.

The fellowship of suffering

My beloved, it is a place of meeting. A place where you and I can come together in complete honesty and truth. Why do you want to rush this time? Am I not closer to you right now than I’ve ever been before? You call to me as though I am distant, far away, as though I need to come to you to take you out of this place. But I am here with you, and it is I who have called you to this place. This is not a place I despise because it is a place I have been to before you, a place of creation and renewal for you.

Can you trust me that I would bring you to this place, not because I am punishing you, or because I have forsaken you, or even because I delight in this place, but because I trust you. I trust you to bear this load and I trust you to seek and find deep truths in this place – to mine the depths of the riches of grace in this dark place. Only when the eyes of your heart are open and seeing, only when the ears of your soul are attentive and hearing will you discover that this is not a place of isolation, or loss, but a place of opportunity, of hidden diamonds in blackest coal, of groans of deep prayer like labour pains before something amazing and beautiful is birthed.

I promised that being with me would lead to life. Will you die to suffering so that you might live to joy, deep everlasting joy? Will you know me – really know me – in my sufferings, in my passion, in my darkest hour, so that you might share in my brightest glory, to behold me as I really am – unveiled, scarred, yet beautiful? To live in my resurrection life requires that you also die in my death. Will you share with me what I can only entrust to those whose hearts are made for this, hearts shaped for the amazing expression of joy through suffering? Will you make up for others in your body what is lacking in my sufferings so that they might know the weight and true value of my costly grace, and not seek out cheap grace as a means to an unfulfilling end?

My beloved, if you knew how much I love you, how much I value you, how much I know you, then you would know you are totally secure and in a place of complete safety. Will you remain here with me a while longer, until my work here is complete?
Will you release to me your most hidden parts, your deepest longings, your greatest dreams – will you offer to me your life plan so I can replace it with the best plan that your life could ever be?

Is it enough for you to know that I am here? Let it be enough and discover that my grace is more than sufficient.