Just at the moment when I think I can’t possibly sink to a new level of brokenness, I find it. Remember when I said that my dark night of the soul was leading me to a new intimacy with Christ? I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve either gone completely spiritually deaf, or he’s just not speaking to me. Not even “Just heal.”
I saw my counselor the other day and told him that I might be too broken to heal at this point. He assured me that I had a long way to fall before reaching that particular abyss.
I’m going to be honest. Most days, I don’t want to read my Bible. Church is boring me to tears. I get more peace from listening to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” than the latest worship song. And if one more person tells me to “forget the past” or “choose joy” or “listen to this awesome sermon I heard,” I might just strangle them with my cross necklace.
Maybe that’s a bit extreme. But what to do? Nothing seems able to break through this darkness, and my spirit screams in frustration.
I have no other option. I must choose grace.
It’s a radical concept, I know. My denomination has taught me for years that “real Christians” don’t experience crises of faith like this. If God seems far away, guess who moved? Real Christians are always in the Spirit. They are joyful all the time. They read their Bibles and pray every day. They get excited about fasting. If you’re struggling or suffering, it means you’re spiritually off track and need to do something to get back on.
It’s the Levitical approach to faith. X+Y=Z. Dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, and God will pat you on the head. Every time.
But that only works until it doesn’t. At some point, God (or life in general) pulls the rug out. “In this world, you shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Jesus said that – to his closest followers. Later on, he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Jesus did everything right, was obedient even to the cross, yet even he felt forsaken in his darkest hour.
The old Levitical system is broken. This is what it is to live under grace.
Living under grace means accepting a world that goes wrong in spite of our best efforts. It also means embracing the love that God has for us. Psalm 145:9 says, “He has compassion on all that He has made.” Compassion. Not condemnation. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).
When we choose grace, we take on the Father’s compassion. We exercise forgiveness for self and others. We acknowledge our brokenness and cast ourselves upon the seat of divine mercy. We surrender our efforts to achieve holiness through our own strength and put our full faith in God’s provision.
So when you open your mouth to pray and nothing comes out, choose grace.
When you’d rather poke an eye out than stomach one more passage in the Psalms, choose grace.
When you’re trying to move forward and it feels like both feet are encased in concrete, choose grace.
When your kids won’t listen to a word you say and insist on causing trouble for the family, choose grace.
When you’ve done everything to make your marriage work and it still falls apart, choose grace.
When you’re struggling with your sexuality and no amount of prayer seems able to change it, choose grace.
When the Pharisees question your commitment to Christ and hurl stones your way, choose grace.
When the night is so dark you can hardly see, when your own wisdom seems inadequate to address the problems you face, when you open your eyes and stare out across a sea of black, when God and joy seem like light years away…