My Granny was one of my greatest spiritual mentors. It was not until she had a stroke and could no longer walk or talk that many of the words that she had spoken to me over and over throughout my life finally really sunk into me. It was like all of her teaching time was over, and the lessons were finally transferred to me, and I began saying the words back to her….reminding her of her own lessons as she suffered greatly at the end of her life. It was beautiful and sad at the same time.

“I finally get it Granny, and now we cannot talk about it together. You can no longer speak, and I am speaking your words back into you.”

But the good news is that although she is no longer with us I did finally get it, and she has left a legacy of spiritual wisdom here on earth.

Granny had many flaws and issues. She was far from perfect, but she lived a long life of fearless faith. She showed me the power of the Holy Spirit in a surrendered and humble human being. She never made a spectacle of herself when the spirit moved her. It was not for show with her. It was reality.

She taught me far too many things to mention in one short post, but a few small examples come to mind.

She taught me about the power of spoken words to create in our lives through faith or in fear. It is our choice.

She taught me that prayer works.

Everyone used to call her and say, “Will you pray for me about such and such because your prayers work.” She would always firmly tell me, “Your prayers work too! But, yes, I will agree with you in prayer of course.”

I will never forget walking into her bedroom as a little child crying with unbearable pain in my feet…..an odd ailment that tormented me many a night in my childhood. She whisked me upon the bed with Papa and her, grabbed my feet and began praying out loud for healing. She even commanded the devil to leave my feet alone which I thought was very strange even as a child…..but to my astonishment it worked! My feet instantly stopped hurting, and that had never happened before. It was a lesson in faith that bewildered me but that I also never forgot.

I sometimes quietly told myself that she was really an angel in disguise on earth. She had learned over her long life the art of  keeping a gentle tone in her voice when dealing with us kids, and her hair was even snow-white which fit the angel persona in my childhood mind.

Although she was quite the Alpha woman, a leader, a mover and a shaker….she was also gentle and compassionate in her approach…..a delicate balance of power and humility.

Even her death seemed divinely orchestrated. She passed away quietly in her sleep early one Thanksgiving morning when the family was already gathered in from out of town for Thanksgiving Day. And it seems fitting that she would leave us with one last message just by passing on that day…..Be grateful for all of life, but do not fear death for it is also a part of life.

Last year when my family suffered two horrible losses…..the death of a baby and the sudden death of a beloved young uncle…..my mom found a copy of a prayer tucked away in my grandmother’s keepsakes. We read it at our private outdoor memorial. It seemed like Granny’s contribution to us during this difficult time. It must have been a prayer that she kept close to her heart, and it is a prayer that I hope to live by every day. I will close with the prayer:

Keep us O God from pettiness: let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.

     Let us be done with fault finding, and leave off self-seeking. May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face without self-pity and without prejudice.

     May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous.

     Let us take time for all things: make us to grow calm, serene, gentle.

     Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straight forward, and unafraid. Grant that we realize it is the little things that create differences and that in the big things of life we are as one.

     And may we strive to touch and know the great common human heart of us all, and O God, let us forget not to be kind.                                                                                                                                                                 Amen

 

I think that the revelation of grace is one of the best kept secrets of all time. People hear about grace, read about grace, talk about grace, sing about grace and even extend grace to others all the time, but very few seem to really “get it.”

I was raised in church my entire childhood. We were there every week an hour early for “Sunday School” and then stayed for the actual church service. We went to weekday services between Sundays, and I always attended or worked at summer Bible schools and camps.  I was blessed not to be in a fear based “hell-fire” atmosphere. There was a lot of love there and focus on giving to the poor. We were taught the actual Bible and not watered down stories even as kids so I had a very good foundation in teachings about grace, and one would think that grace would be a no brainer for me.

But my own experience is that grace really is a revelation or an epiphany that takes place in the soul or spirit. It is hard to describe it in words because it is almost beyond words. The word is “grace” and that does not really explain it. I have found that when I try to explain it to people they either light up with recognition because they have had this epiphany themselves or they look at me with eyes of confusion because they either do not understand what I am saying or they think that I am saying something wrong…I don’t know.

It was not until later in my adulthood that I had the realization of grace. And when I did I honestly felt as if I had been born into a new life.

I walked around in awe telling people “I feel like I have been struggling to get through a very tight dark womb and have finally been born into the light of the free world.”

The experience for me was so intense that I worried that people might think that I was a little “crazy.” They probably did.

I  remember saying, “Oh! This must be what those people mean when they say “born again!” But do they even know it?”

So what is it? How do I find the words?

Well I used to think that I had to try really hard to be “good.” I had to struggle to “do the right thing” all the time. I had to work hard. I had to help everyone that needed anything. I had to “be there” for everyone all the time. I had to strive and strain to achieve perfection, and with all of this hard work I would one day “arrive” at this Christ like state of being.

I would drop everything in my own life and help others…friends, family…no matter what. I was doing many “good” things for others. I was ALWAYS there if they needed me and not just there as a friend or in comfort, but I was there doing everything ..being everything…..I was playing God!

I was the one that they came too for literally EVERYTHING. I was very co-dependent. I was being their Holy Spirit. With me around no one had any need to go to God for anything. I had all of the answers and all of the help available 24 hours a day…Haha!

I was getting my self worth from “helping” everyone else…from being needed…from trying so hard to be good…to be God.

I was also getting more and more drained, depleted, and resentful. People never gave as much to me as I did to them. My own life and all of my own problems and issues were conveniently being ignored by me, and my own life was not going so great. I even dropped out of college several times because there was ALWAYS a big crisis in my dysfunctional family during the semester, and I would turn all of my focus onto that drama instead of my own life. Co-dependence is just another form of escapism.

So the revelation of grace did not happen overnight. I guess it was a lifelong process that finally came to a head, but when it finally clicked it seemed like it happened all of a sudden.

I realized that all of this trying and struggling and being everything to everyone was wrong. This is not the way to grow into the Christ-like being of love that I was hoping to emulate.

I realized that Christ does indeed dwell within me (Ephesians 3:17)…that the Holy Spirit is inside me (1 John 4:13)…that God which is love is within my very heart, soul, spirit and body.

I, like every human, am a unique creation. I am created specifically a certain way in order to express a unique aspect of God (love) on this planet at this time. I am created “in the image of God.” I, like everyone, am a unique ray of God’s immense love. This is cliché, but there has never been nor will there ever be another expression of God’s love on earth that is exactly like me so if I am not my true self…the “self” that I was created to be… then the world will not experience this unique aspect of God’s image ever again. In being my true “child of God” self I am fulfilling my purpose.

Grace is not about how hard I try, how much I do, how good I am, how much I struggle to be something.

Grace is about surrender…letting go…allowing the spark of God that I carry within me which is without limits…without fear…eternal and infinite to come alive on this limited 3 dimensional earth in this limited 3 dimensional body that I live in for this finite time.

It is nothing that I have or can ever earn by working hard and following rules, but as I surrender to this gift which is given to me because of the love of God that is within me and around me I am then COMPELLED to do the good things…the loving things that I was uniquely created to do.

I am no longer struggling to prove myself to God or others in order to earn love, approval, or status. I no longer have to wear myself out to do everything right and to be everything to everyone in order to achieve a Christ-like state of being.

When I let go of all of the struggling and trying and working, and I release myself from my inner task master in order to surrender to the spirit of love (Christ) that is within me I almost naturally but also supernaturally begin to walk on the path of fulfilling the purpose and doing the good works that God has purposed for me and my life……And that does not include every good work that my poor body can possibly do.

Yes…sometimes I catch myself slipping back into my co-dependent ways. I do not have it all perfectly figured out. I have not “arrived”

But I can at least catch it now at some point before it gets out of control because of the revelation of the grace of God which is given to me by the grace of God.

*”Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”   Matthew 11: 28-30 (Jesus’ words) emphasis mine

* “What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”   Luke 14:11 (Jesus’ words)(emphasis mine)

* “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”  Romans 8:1

* “If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”   Galatians 2: 18-21

We are finally here…the anxiously awaited year of 2012. This is the year that many have thought about, talked about and written about….and here we are. And I feel a buzz of excitement in the air. There is spirit of change blowing through this time and space like a hurricane force wind.

There are uprisings of people around the globe. All over the world people are finding the courage to rise up against oppression, tyranny and lies. People are demanding truth, and they are revealing truth of all kinds. Things that have been kept in darkness are being brought out into the light for all to see. There is an awakening of sorts happening. I see it all over the world.

I have been connected to people around the planet through the internet in a way that was not possible just a few decades ago. I hear the same message and longing from them all. People are calling for hearts to be changed and opened. People of the world are crying out for the truth to be revealed and for truth to be heard. People are longing for human connection and divine connection. People are daring to believe that a better world is possible. People are looking for something much greater than themselves alone whether they realize it or not.

I see great fear in people of the world, but then I see them fighting that fear with great ferocity through the power of  faith, love, and connection.  I see courage in humanity…courage to speak the truth…courage to stand up for peace, freedom, and love…courage to be themselves.

There is an opening right now like a beautiful flower that is just beginning to bloom. Hearts, minds, and eyes are opening globally and this is being manifested in many different ways.

There is also great opposition to the spirit if these times. That is the way that it is on planet earth. There is always opposition…light and dark, yin and yang, good and evil….everything has an equal and opposite reaction.

I feel a burning in my soul and a vibration of a higher frequency that is becoming more harmonious with the song of the creator’s love….Agape…unconditional love.

No…I do not always act in harmony with it, but I feel it in my spirit. As I allow myself to open more and more to the heart of God… the spirit of this great love flows through me and it makes me dance to its music.

These are amazing times to be alive. My cells are singing with anticipation of the things to come. I do not imagine it all to be easy as great things rarely are, but I am working towards surrender to something beautiful and new. I hope that you can tune in and feel it too.

Just like a mighty Oak Tree receives the light of heaven freely through its branches,

As I reach toward heaven the love of God flows freely through me by grace.

Just as the tree is nourished all the way to its roots by the sun,

So am I nourished through and through with the light of God.

As the tree sways in harmony with the breeze while remaining firmly rooted to the dark womb of earth,

I remain solidly grounded as I am moved in a dance like flow by the breath of the Holy Creator.

Everywhere I look nature teaches me about the love of the one who created it.

And in looking at the tree I am reminded that I too am a conduit between heaven and earth.
As I gently walk the earth in this dense physical body totally open-hearted and surrendered in spirit,

The love of Christ flows to me and through me, and I humbly become a bringer of heaven to earth.

I believe that every person’s life has purpose. Every person has a part to play in this drama that we call life. It is so easy to get absorbed into our own world, to put on the blinders of separateness and to lose sight of how we are connected to a much larger picture than just our small day to day routine. We are all a piece of a greater puzzle. We are a note in a much fuller, more harmonious song. Our lives are threads in a beautiful tapestry.  Life really is a dance with a pattern that touches and connects with others all along the way, and we usually have no idea of the impact both positively and negatively that we have on the whole picture.

This concept is expressed so simply and perfectly in the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.” If you have seen the movie you know that when just an ordinary man, George Bailey, has his life erased from existence it causes a domino effect of disturbing changes in the lives around him and even lives of those he does not even know.

When one person touches other lives even in small ways then the lives that she touches then effect other people which then touch others and the ripple expands throughout the world. And this includes positive as well as negative impacts.

So with this in mind I have been wondering why so many people feel that they do not fit in? When you see the big picture it is obvious that everyone has to fit in, but so many people feel that they do not. So many people feel isolated and separate and unimportant. And many times we as humans perpetuate this belief by refusing to connect with others on any deep level. We do seem to push people out many times and add to this illusion of separateness and lack of life purpose.

Sometimes we don’t go as far as making someone an outcast, but we just deal with people on a surface level. We keep many acquaintances and call them our friends. Why are we as humans so intent on making some people feel like they are not a part of things, and why are we so fearful of connecting with others in a real way?

The more that I learn about people the more I see that we are all so similar. We are all so insecure sometimes. Even that person that you see and you think that they have it all together…they have it all figured out…they have it so great….well, they are insecure too.

We would all be so much more fulfilled if we embraced the connection that we have to everyone…if we embraced our similarities and our differences….if we broke through our fears and illusions….if we embraced one another.

There are certain relationships in life that just seem other worldly or divinely orchestrated. I have definitely experienced some of these with people, but I was seriously amazed when it happened to me with a cat especially since I had never really been a big animal person before.

I was about 20 years old, and I was going through one of the darkest periods of my life. Everything that I had been through as a child just started becoming clearer to me when I moved out on my own, and it seemed as if the world just crashed down on me. None of my old defense mechanisms were working anymore so I turned to more unhealthy and self-destructive ones because I honestly felt like I would not survive otherwise. I was dark, depressed, and self-destructive, and I honestly felt like there was some dark demonic force sitting on my back and trying to take me out. I know that sounds weird, but I really felt it. I would pray frantically, “Oh dear God please make it go away!”…..But it didn’t.

So anyway, out of the clear blue one day I got this weird obsessive thought that I wanted a pure white cat. When I say obsessive I mean I could not shake this desire that came on as suddenly as a heart attack. I just felt this strong pull and longing to get a white kitten IMMEDIATELY!

I looked in the newspaper that day to see if there were any cats for sale or for free, and low and behold there was an add that literally said, “All white kittens for sale.” It was the strangest synchronicity! It was actually bizarre to me that I suddenly got this odd urge then opened the paper to see the fulfillment to my urge right there in print.

I called the number, and the man said he had a litter of all white Persian kittens that I could come see. He lived an hour and a half away, and even though it was already about 8:00pm I asked him if I could come right away. He said, “sure,” so off  I went to spend my rent money on this little being that for some reason all of the forces of God and nature were pulling me towards.

When I arrived there with my boyfriend the man pulled out several cages of fluffy white kittens, and he let them all out for me to see. All of the kittens were showing off, jumping around, playing, and prancing like they were all competing for my attention. But there was one little guy that just ran like a fraidy cat back into his cage and hid all by himself in the corner staring at me with desperately frightened eyes that said, “Please get me out of here.”

He was also the only one that had a little silver patch on the crown of his head. When our eyes met and locked I knew that he was the one that I had come for, and the breeder acted surprised that I wanted the shy kitten, but I had no doubts at all that he was the one. There was some strange other worldly recognition that I had with his old deep looking eyes.

So I held him close to my heart all the way home comforting his fear with soft loving words, and we were instantly bonded. Over the years our love only grew and grew. He was affectionate with me. He hugged me, kissed me, slept on me, and there was nothing that he could ever do that would make me give him up.

He was almost like a dog with me. He came when I called. He stayed close by. He sensed when I was upset and was right there to comfort me. He loved me even when he witnessed me doing bad things, and I always felt guilty when he would stare at me as I was hurting myself in some way, and I would always hug him and apologize.

Other people marveled at the strange connection that I had with Casper, my kitty. I would let him out to play, and without even realizing it I would get up in the middle of a conversation with friends and open the front door, and he would run inside. When my friends’ jaws dropped I said, “What?”

They said, “How did you know he was at the door? He never even made a sound?”

I just shrugged. Casper and I always knew what each other needed. We had no problem communicating without words, and I had never experienced this kind of connection before with an animal.  Apparently it was unique even to see because others often commented on the strangeness yet the sweetness of it.

There was a period of time when I was in college far away from my home town that I was basically homeless….well I was homeless. I had everything that I owned in my tiny two seat car, and I had a pager so that people could get in touch with me. They would page, and I would call them from a pay phone. It was a crazy unstable time, but Casper was with me. I had him along with his litter box in my car with me. Where ever I was… he was home no matter how much we bounced around from place to place…we were together.

He was the love of my life honestly. We were soul mates. My boyfriends would even get jealous! I know it sounds insane, and I honestly never would have imagined having this kind of bond with a cat, but it just happened. He was my angel really. He came into my life when I became an adult and needed an angel more than ever, and he stayed with me during 14 of my wildest and most roller coaster-ish years.

I truly believe that he was heaven-sent. He even looked angelic with his pure white fur that was softer than a cloud, his tiny pink nose and mouth, and his big deep golden eyes that looked so loving and wise.

As Casper and I grew older I began longing for a child, and every now and then this horrible thought would pop into my head that said, “You are going to have to let go of Casper before you will be able to have a baby.” I would quickly push that thought away saying to myself that it was just a fear and not true, but deep down I felt it was honestly that deep inner knowing that comes to me sometimes that is true. I just did not want to believe it.

I tried to conceive unsuccessfully for 8 difficult years, and Casper remained faithfully by my side through it all.

Then one Saturday morning in January Casper came and jumped on me while I was sleeping late. He wanted me, but I pushed him away so that I could sleep longer. He calmly went off and allowed me to sleep. Then when I woke up and got my coffee I went and got back in my bed to relax and watch a movie. Casper then came back, and jumped into my lap.

He sat with me snuggling and purring loudly for a while as I pet him and gave him the love that he had been craving earlier. Then all of a sudden, as quickly as a heart attack, Casper gasped a few times and died in my lap.

It all happened so fast and so unexpectedly, but I knew instantly as it began happening that he was leaving me forever. I could almost see his spirit leaving his body in some strange way. I immediately burst into hard sobs, and started saying, “It’s okay….it’s okay” through my tears because I just knew as I always had with Casper that this was all in divine order even as difficult as it was.

My husband and I placed him in his new bed that we had just purchased for him. We took him to my grandparent’s house into a beautiful wooded area and covered his body with flowers before putting him in the ground. I decorated his grave site with tons of pink dewy flower petals that just happened to be all over the ground already, and I said a prayer thanking God for my angel and asking God to enjoy him in heaven as I had here.

This was one of the most difficult losses of life that I had ever experienced. I sobbed for weeks, and I still cry sometimes years later, but I also had peace about it because something in me knew that it was all just as it should be. Casper knew that he was leaving me that day, and he waited for me to wake up so that he could  say goodbye and so that he could be with me at his passing.

Little did I know, until later, that Casper died literally two days after I conceived my daughter. It was as if they passed each other in the ethers. He left as she came…. One great love for another. I don’t know why, but it still somehow makes sense.

I do not know if I will ever experience something like that with another pet. It is not something that can be forced. I tried. I tried to get another cat later, but it just did not work out even nearly the same.

Casper’s and my relationship was divine. He taught me more about unconditional love than I ever could have imagined. He was my angel in disguise, and I will look for him to greet me when my time in this world is up. Until then he remains with me in my heart and sometimes meets me in my dreams.

I remember being about 12 years old when my 16 year old sister began desperately looking for an escape from our home. She had a very high SAT score so she saw entering college early as her way out. Ironically my mother did the same thing when she was 16, and I am not sure why.

My oldest sister had always been my ally. She saw it as her place to protect and defend me. She still feels guilt and remorse because she thinks that she failed or that she abandoned me by leaving. But she didn’t. I have never felt any resentments towards her for this.  She was a child too.

I did selfishly feel relieved when she did not get into college early because I knew that she would be staying, and I would have missed her terribly if she left. As I got older I had succumbed to sleeping with her every night. It felt safer with both of us in there. It seemed we were more difficult targets that way. She, being a teenager, sometimes expressed that she would like to sleep alone occasionally, but then I would just wait for her to fall asleep and slither into her room and onto her bed without making a peep or disturbing even a blanket. I could not sleep alone.

My relief that she was not leaving was short lived though. I walked into the dining room one day and saw her sobbing. She said that she had not been accepted early into school. Then she looked at me and said, “I have to get out of here Jess or I will kill him!” Those words cut right into my soul because even at 12 years old I had seen and experienced enough to know that this was no idle threat. She was serious. I then knew that I had to let her go. She had to get out. My selfishness flew out the window, and I felt the desperation for her to find a way out.

Thanks be to God some strings were pulled, and she was accepted into college early after all. She left, and as usual I tried to ignore the loss and keep moving. I had no trouble taking over where she left off….fighting my step father, protecting the little ones, and protecting my mom which was more of my own thing.

She had taught me well by example, and I could fight that man like no one else. I rarely coward from him. I always stood strong and fought after she left. I remember many times he would say, “You are just like your sister!” He did not mean it as a compliment, but I would bark back at him, “Thank you!”

There were times when he would be having one of his violent adult tantrums, and the entire family would have scattered and gotten the heck out of dodge, but I stayed. I would plant myself on the kitchen counter and watch him. I would somehow find a strength within my self that expanded my spirit way above my tiny frame, and I would not flinch or move in spite of the craziness going on before me. Then I would coolly look at him and say, “Are you finished having your tantrum now?”

That pissed him off beyond belief, but he would end up leaving the room, and I had won in some strange way. This is the strength that my sister gave me when she left. This is the strength that I found within.

I remember finally one day getting the courage to go and look in her room after she left. It was not a room left for a child to come home to. It was totally empty. Even all of her furniture was gone. It was very final, and I finally felt the loss as the tears welled up in my eyes.

I then decided to paint her room lavender and move in there myself. Then my little sister could move into my old room next door, and my little brother moved into her old room on the other side of me. I could be mother hen really well from that vantage point.

I was still very afraid to sleep alone though. This was a huge hurdle for me, and I was terrified. But I remember drawing on that inner strength again and giving myself a pep talk saying, “I am 13 years old now. I am too old to be doing this. I have to get over this fear.” I white knuckled it night after night. I would lay in bed and frantically pray all night until I fell asleep early in the morning. Sometimes I would even grab my sleeping little sister out of her bed and put her in bed with me, but it wasn’t quite the same. Slowly though it got easier until eventually I had conquered that too. I could sleep alone in my room in the dark, and I was the one who woke everyone up for school every morning. Later my little sister would be the one begging to sleep with me.

Although my older sister feels guilty for “abandoning” me she did a good thing by finally making a choice to protect herself. She had taken enough. She had reached her limit, and staying probably would have lead to a horrible end. When she found the strength inside of her to do what she had to do to care for herself  she also allowed me to find a God given strength within myself. She passed on the fighting spirit that I would need to make it for the next 6 or 7 years in that home and on into the future, and I became a woman during that time.

By making one choice for her own health and safety my sister actually helped me too. It was hard without her, but I learned to dig deep, to exercise my faith in God, and that when needed there is a spirit in my tiny self that is stronger than even an angry big man!

I have been able to use these lessons through out my life, and I have even been able to use them to fight for my sister’s life in our adulthood when it seemed that no one else could do it.

My sister gave me many gifts. She gave me comfort when I was a child, and then as I began the transition into womanhood she gave me the gift of inner strength, and it has served us both well. I thank her and God for that.

I caught a glimpse of the Holy One out of the corner of my eye.

I tried to grab Him and wrestle Him down. I wanted answers from Him.

I struggled to keep Him in my grasp, but like liquid He just slipped through my fingers.

I chased His river as it flowed before me until I was close enough to dive in.

But right at the moment that I began to jump He evaporated and rose to the sky.

I crashed to the ground all bloody and bruised, and I watched Him float by like a cloud.

With nothing left for me to do I just lay there exhausted and drained.

He was out of my reach, and my eyelids grew heavy as I  watched him drifting away.

My teary eyes finally gave in and closed as I began to rest.

The moment that I finally let go He rained down on me sweetly in my sleep.

People often talk about God’s judgment and God’s wrath, but honestly it seems to me that we are the ones who really want to make others pay for their wrong doings. We are the ones who want to pour out our wrath on others.

We want to experience redemption and forgiveness for ourselves. We want others to see our side of things, to see the pain that brings us to make our mistakes, to give us a second or third or fourth chance to get our lives straight and do things differently….but when it comes to others we as people love to play the role of prosecutor and judge. We love to hold people accountable, and we can be extremely harsh judges full of wrath, ridicule and hatred.

We love to talk about how God will make people pay for their wrong doings, and there is some truth to that I guess. There is a law of karma…what goes around does come around…do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

But what about redemption? What about forgiveness? What about restoration of broken lives and broken people? We all want this for ourselves. We seek this from God and from others. We seek mercy when we are in trouble. What about other people? What about people who do things that we do not understand?

What if there are people or even loved ones who refuse to understand us and refuse to see the pain that causes our brokeness and our mistakes? What if we are the ones who the lynch mob is coming after? What if it is us who the world wants so badly to see as the worst of the worst. What if we are the ones being held under a microscope and then burned at the stake.

What if  God refused to extend redemption, forgiveness and multiple chances to us? What if we never experienced those miraculous moments when we somehow get another chance in life after making a horrible decision or a colossal mistake?

Are we really willing to do unto others as we hope that others will do unto us?

Are we willing to extend mercy when we do not understand another? Do we really seek redemption for others? Or do we only seek it for certain people with certain problems?

When I look at the life, the example, and the words of Christ I see something groundbreaking. I do not see wrath and judgment against “sinners.” I see Christ going out of his way to talk to women who were seen as lower than dogs in that primitive middle eastern culture.

I see him intentionally approaching and talking to a Samaritan woman who was living with a man she was not married to and who had been through about 5 husbands….very taboo in that society. The Samaritans were seen as “less than” by the Jewish people at that time so the fact that he was talking to a woman from another race with a bad reputation was extremely taboo!  He privately took time to talk to her and to reveal himself to her. He did not avoid her or expose her faults to everyone or seek to bring punishment or condemnation on her. He sought to bring her salvation and grace and good news to share.

I see him showing up at the exact time that a “lynch mob” was about to stone a woman to death for being caught in adultery. I see him putting a stop to them and calmly pointing out to the crowd that they were all just as guilty. I see him extending love, forgiveness, redemption and acceptance to her.

I see Christ making a point to spend time in the homes of the most hated sinners. I see him touching and loving the untouchables and the “unclean”  men and women. I see him asking those whom society had discarded to follow him and to be his friend.

Christ came to level the field, to set us free from all prejudices and separations and to show us that we are all the same:

“There is now no distinction neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”                   Galatians 3:28

Even after his death and resurrection I see Christ revealing himself to a man, Paul, who had been going around persecuting and killing the early Christians. Christ revealed himself to this horrible man in an extremely dramatic spiritual encounter, and Paul was totally transformed. He was forgiven. His life was completely changed, and he became one of those that he had been previously judging and killing! Yes….a killer was changed and given a new life of purpose.

The main times that I see Christ judging and extending anger are towards the Pharisees, the prideful religious people who went around harshly judging everyone else! Christ judged the judges not the sinners or the outcasts.

Christ extended love and compassion for those stuck in patterns of sin and brokeness. He made a point to reach out to the lowest people in society, but he spoke harshly and passed judgement on the ones who claimed to be more righteous than others and who held themselves up as prosecutors and judges of others!

Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah (61) when he proclaimed,

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed  Me to preach the good news to the poor; he has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed, to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound.] ”           Luke 4:18, 19    

Christ came to show us the nature of God. His nature is to redeem, restore, forgive, love, help, transform and heal. His nature is to give us as humans many chances to fail and then get back up and try again. His nature is to rehabilitate even the “worst” of sinners and then give them a purpose in life for the causes of goodness and then to continue to extend grace to them when they fall again and attempt to get up yet again.

That is not our nature though….not most of us most of  the time. We tend to be more of the lynch mob looking to point the finger, judge, punish, and brand people for life. We tend to define people by their worst moments in life and hold them to that forever. We even get angry at others who do not want to join the lynch mob as we demand justice! We see this now at the end of the Casey Anthony trial for example.

Christ came and revealed to us a new and better way. He revealed to us a loving God. He revealed to us grace which is the undeserved favor and blessing of God. He showed us that grace comes to us not by what we do and do not do because we are all guilty from time to time. Grace comes to us by our faith in the goodness of God. God is love, and He cannot help but to love. It is his very essence. He showed us how to bear each others burdens, how to love and extend grace instead of judgment because we are all guilty of something.

He gave us two commandments:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…..And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as you do yourself.”   Matthew 22: 37-39

He was very different from those around him and from those around us today. I am a fan of redemption and grace. I have thankfully been the recipient of it, and it is because of that I strive to give that grace to others.  I do not always succeed, but when I do I never regret it. These are some of the reasons that I love this Christ.

What’s the part of your heart that you manifested in me?

What were your thoughts and words that created my flesh?

Which shiny facet of you am I to reflect?

What’s the dream of yours that I am to be?

What part of yourself were you hoping to display when you knit me together in the womb?

Merge my heart with the part of your heart that is me.

Let me be the part of you I was created to be.