Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Louise Avant

God's promise arrives as pure gift. That's the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. Romans 4:16  (The Message)

"I will be your God and you will be My people. Follow Me every step of the way into life that is good." But they didn't trust Me. They didn't obey My voice. They refused to listen to Me. Instead they followed the plans of their own stubborn hearts. Each step was a step backward, not forward. I have shown them the way to a better life. But did any of them listen or pay attention? Did they change their ways? No, they only hardened their resolve to go their own way. Jeremiah 8:23b-26a (The Voice)

"God's promise arrives as pure gift."

Wow! That is an amazing statement.

We are saved by grace, not by works, not by acting good, not by looking good; just by being God's child.

And who is Gods child?

Every person - all people, all races, all genders, all sexual orientations, all ages, all nationalities, all economic stations, all physical and mental abilities, all addicts, all people, all people, all people.

God's blessings belong not to those who perfectly obey the law (as though that were even possible), but to those who in faith accept God's free gift of forgiveness. I have spent a lot of time in what I call "judging mode." That is where I compare myself to others: is my fat percentage higher or lower than that person, is my hair grayer than another, is my garden greener, my house smaller, my faith bigger? And to what end? Thank goodness God doesn't sit around wondering which one of his children is cuter, better, more generous or faithful. God loves each of us, God gifts each of us, God graces each of us, God forgives each of us, God gave his Son to each of us.

So why don't we listen? Why don't we change?

Because it's hard.

It's easier to go it alone, to judge ourselves and others, to grasp hold tightly, to wander in the wilderness.

Being a believer in the 12 steps from AA and what they can do for my life, I have been through the steps at least three times. Each time I found that I had 'slipped', taken a step backward, needing to listen, to change, to follow the steps. Acknowledging God's presence, asking for help from God and giving myself to God to take over my life, laying out my sins and asking for forgiveness from all I hurt, continuing to look at my sins day by day and asking others on the journey to help me, helping others on their path...not turning away, turning towards...

In this season of Lent, I think it's time again for me to pause and listen.

Will you accept God's free grace? Will you listen? Will you change your ways?

Louise Avant is the Minister of Music and Worship at First Austin.  


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