Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Garden of Grace

As I write it’s raining. Not a massive blasting crackling Joburg storm, but the quiet relentless showering of watery goodness that we need. And I feel, in the cool wetness of the air, clean, new and brave again.

This is the time of the year that we start asking "Why did I say I'd go to gym/give up chocolate/ stop drinking?". 

Those fabulous resolutions. 

I think one of the reasons so many of us take a break at the end of the year is to recover from the effects of all the good intentions. Even if we start well, we quickly fall into bad habits again. And the guilt. That drives us to all sorts of other behaviour, to make us feel better - binge watching TV series, comfort eating, sleeping our lives away to avoid facing our own demons, mocking us as they flaunt our failure, larger than life itself, as we put down the bag of crisps, cringing at the crackle of foil as we reach for the remote to change channels.

So we work harder, and harder, and then some more, so that we feel better and "have it all". Eventually we drive/fly/sail away from all our unfinished masterpieces - monuments to our efforts, their sheer size posing the question - "was it worth the sacrifice?" as we speed away to the sea, the mountains, or the ski slopes to breathe again.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting off that hamster wheel early this year. I'm starting the way I intend to finish - with a rest.

Gerald May, in his book Addiction and Grace, writes

"In the arid lands that were the birthplace of monotheistic religion, the desert was a primary symbol of trial and temptation. And water, especially freshly flowing "living" water, became a permanent image of God's grace. Just as fresh water could transform wastelands into gardens, the living water of God's Spirit could cause love to grow within the most parched and wilful souls... addiction's empty and idolatrous wasteland is transformed by grace into a garden of freedom and love."

So stop, right now. Stop trying so hard, and let it rain. Wait for it. Hear it. Feel it on your tongue. And let it soak your soul. Follow that tiny drop of rain down the hard crust of your failure, through the stony ground of your ambitions and intentions and into your heart. Watch as it feeds the seed of hope, and let it grow, that tiny seed of truth and purpose. 

Then don't forget to come back to this place, often. Not because you've said you would, but because it is here that you let God's grace transform you, change you and let you be all that you are meant to be.

The song may help - it's one of my favourites.

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Take time - 

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