I’m not a fan of those Magic Eye 3-D pictures. You know the ones I’m talking about? If you look at them long enough a picture jumps out at you. More often than not, it doesn’t for me. When it does, I am much slower than others. I sit around befuddled as others comment, “You really don’t see it!?”
At times, my experience with grace has been similar. Can you relate?I heard about God’s grace long before I accepted it freshmen year of college. While I was still in high school, my oldest brother was late coming up on Christmas morning. I was chomping at the bit to open presents. But he was typing away on the basement computer. I wondered to myself, “What could he possibly be doing down there!?” What he was doing was writing his parents and brothers a note to share about God’s grace. Yet, it would take me several more years looking at this picture of Magic Eye squiggles before a picture of grace popped out.
To this day I have that same 3D picture in front of me. At its core, the message, or picture, hasn’t changed. It’s always been and will always be the Gospel. But, is it enough even now? As life changes, as things come and go, as the struggle against sin ebbs and flows, amidst the colors and lines, does the picture still pop? Is grace still present? Is his grace still sufficient for me?
Have you at all experienced this? It’s a small, yet real temptation to live according to the squiggles rather than pause and keenly look into the grace of God. It’s a subtle apathy that saves the time of watching, waiting, and looking for God’s grace afresh. It’s a willingness to be buoyed by past experiences rather than seeking God for a renewed witness of his mercy.
Jerry Bridges helps us here. With a simple set of reminders (from jacket cover of Transforming Grace) he says that we don’t understand grace if:
- We live with a vague sense of God’s disapproval.
- We believe there are things we can do to cause God to love us more and/or love us less.
- We can’t honestly see ourselves as “blameless” in his eyes.
- We don’t really believe he likes us.
- We can find someone to look down upon.
- We fear the day may not go as well because we failed to read the Bible and pray.
- We believe 1 John 1:9 no longer applies to us because we’ve sinned too many time and used up all our credit.
- We haven’t been tempted to go ahead and sin because we know our performance has nothing to do with our standing before him.
I’ve found these to be helpful dashboard indicators for me. If I’m feeling one of these, it may be sign that I need to look afresh on the grace of God through Christ. How about you?
- Has the grace of God ever popped for you? If so, would you be willing to encourage others with a comment or two that helped it “pop” for you?
- How would you counsel and encourage someone who may be struggling to receive God’s grace afresh today?
- Did any of Jerry Bridges “dashboard indicators” resonate with you? If so, which ones?