Where God and Love and Grace Abound

There was a time I felt it nec­es­sary to hide this arti­cle behind pass­word pro­tec­tion as it con­tains things which some might assume to be of a per­son­al nature. As of March, no longer do those rea­sons apply. This is one of my favorite com­po­si­tions. I’ve been told by some who have read it that por­tions were help­ful to them. For these rea­sons I wish it hid­den no longer.

We stop and ask our­selves those crit­i­cal ques­tions which we believe we must have answered in the affir­ma­tive before we will go Danc­ing in the Mine­fields. The answers, if entire­ly hon­est, will always be insuf­fi­cient. We will nev­er start the music; nev­er take hand with a dance part­ner.

Our ideals exceed the graces of human­i­ty. We men wait on the Proverbs 31 woman. She does not exist. Many women wait for the sec­ond com­ing of Christ. His heart is already spo­ken for. When He returns it will be to car­ry home God’s daugh­ter-in-law. And so we wait rather than begin the great adven­ture. We stand at the edge of the mine­field, star­ing out across it, alone, yet yearn­ing to dance; for a com­pan­ion with whom to dance.

We are pris­on­ers there­fore, in our very hearts, held cap­tive by fears, clutch­ing tight­ly to stan­dards of per­fec­tion rather than stan­dards of hon­est yet often stum­bling pur­suit of excel­lence.

“Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laugh­ter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beau­ty of flesh and the liv­ing col­ors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?” ― Eugene O’Neill, The Great God Brown and Oth­er Plays

The ques­tion then… the sec­ond ques­tion, bespeaks a more real­is­tic ide­al, prompt­ed when we defin­i­tive­ly have God. If we have God and His exam­ple of Love and Grace to always stand with us, then the sec­ond ques­tion becomes the one that mat­ters.

The third ques­tion becomes then, mere for­mal­i­ty. It was answered when we invit­ed God to a place of pri­ma­cy with­in our mar­riage and our hearts.

God will join our hands. God will start the music. Our eyes on Him we will dance with joy­ous aban­don and our feet will find only safe firm ground, ’til we come to the oth­er side and meet with Him, our Father, face to face.

Am I wor­thy?
Hard­ly.
Am I worth­while?
With great cer­tain­ty.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Will I always imme­di­ate­ly put you first?
I real­ly real­ly wish I could say, “Yes.”
The times that I don’t, will I get there before too long?
You may count on it.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I flaw­less?
Hard­ly.
Does my beau­ty out­shine my flaws?
I am per­fect in my imper­fec­tion.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I wise?
Hard­ly.
I peti­tion God for wis­dom, does He give?
Always, gen­er­ous­ly, and with­out reproach. a
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I com­plete­ly hon­est?
Com­plete­ly? No, nev­er com­plete­ly.
How then am I to be trust­ed?
My rare laps­es in efforts to be entire­ly hon­est are moti­vat­ed by imma­tu­ri­ty and fear. God con­tin­ues to mature me and expel my spir­it of fear, prompt­ing me to ‘fess up to mis­truths and strive for dis­ci­pline. b
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always under­stand­ing?
Hard­ly.
Do I strive to make a habit of lis­ten­ing dili­gent­ly?
Very near­ly always, and until I do under­stand.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I thought­ful?
Hard­ly.
Will my thoughts always return to you?
They can nev­er stray far.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I come with a guar­an­tee?
What fun would that be?
So what if things break down and stop work­ing?
I will not rest until we’re repaired and what’s bro­ken mend­ed.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I trust­wor­thy?
Hard­ly.
When trust is bro­ken, will I rest?
I shall not. Your trust is the very strength in my body.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I unselfish?
Not hard­ly.
How then can I love and serve?
God has shown me the joy of putting you first.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I stew­ard well my time and mon­ey?
What was the ques­tion again?
How then will I care for wife and fam­i­ly?
I have learned against my nature. To whom God gives much… c
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I above reproach?
I’d be lying if I said I was.
But is that not a stan­dard to which a man must work?
Yes, and I do, and that is why I can­not answer untruth­ful­ly.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I coura­geous?
Not espe­cial­ly. Much more so now than in the past.
Why is that? May I be count­ed on then?
God has shown me what is most impor­tant; much more than youth­ful fears.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I right­eous?
None are right­eous, no, not one. d
Do I seek after right­eous­ness and to hon­or God?
Very near­ly always I do.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always faith­ful in all things?
I try, but I some­times fail.
Can my fail­ure edure?
My heart will nev­er allow.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I always kind?
There was a time, when I hard­ly under­stood kind­ness.
And now?
I am still learn­ing the more sub­tle aspects, but the new man I am under­stands and cher­ish­es kind­ness. My heart has been soft­ened to the point where kind­ness is very near­ly always my first response to oth­ers. I wish God to refine me, as impu­ri­ties are burned and then drawn away from pre­cious met­al in a cru­cible, to have no oth­er response.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I will­ing to change?
In myself? Far too reluc­tant­ly.
What if God puts it on my heart for you?
Watch how quick­ly the old man dies!
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I gor­geous?
You betcha!
Lev­i­ty? Humor? Here? In this seri­ous dis­course?
I val­ue so very high­ly the absolute beau­ty in your gen­uine smile; a smile which touch­es every fea­ture of your face, head, and shoul­ders; eyes that reveal a com­fort and hap­pi­ness; a smile which briefly melts away the ten­sion which seems con­stant com­pan­ion. I will always yearn and strive to engen­der those feel­ings in you until the ten­sion, per­haps, becomes stranger to us both.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
You betcha! My love and grace abound, for you, my love.
Am I hum­ble?
For too long have I gripped, white-knuck­led, to unmer­it­ed pride.
So, I have rec­og­nized and acknowl­edge the lack of mer­it?
I do. I have been hum­bled so much and so often that return­ing pride appears an inter­lop­er in these envi­rons.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Am I teach­able?
With this thick skull?
Have the years taught me hard lessons?
The hard­est of all my des­per­ate need to learn.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
It is, where love and grace abound.
Do I, in turn, expect per­fec­tion?
No, no I do not. More­over I want it not.
What then, do I want?
I want only You; You as you are. No ide­al­ized ren­der­ing could approach the beau­ty and love­li­ness of who you are.
Is that suf­fi­cient?
I can­not answer for you. My love and grace abound.
Will I love?
I will love deeply.
I will love sac­ri­fi­cial­ly.
I will love you as Christ loved the church.
I will give myself up for you. e
My love and grace for you and our fam­i­ly will ever abound.

a James 1:5
b 2 Tim­o­thy 1:7
c Luke 12:48
d Isa­iah 53:6, Romans 3:10
e Eph­esians 5:25

There is a dif­fi­cult dis­tinc­tion to make here. I’ve bor­rowed the metaphor of danc­ing through mine­fields from Andrew Peterson’s auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal song, “Danc­ing in the Mine­fields.” Mar­riage is always a dance through mine­fields and always fraught with dan­ger.* We live on a fall­en earth of fall­en peo­ple under the influ­ence of the Bent Oyarsa. We will encounter mines; in those sea­sons when our eyes waver from God, or when the fal­l­en­ness of this world (sin by those out­side our mar­riage and sick­ness being a major con­se­quences of fal­l­en­ness) asserts. With God in our mar­riage how­ev­er, our dance will be more grace­ful, more beau­ti­ful, and less apt to put a foot wrong in clum­sy stum­ble. More­over, when we do encounter mines, our devo­tion to God will equip us to bet­ter deal with what­ev­er the Bent Oyarsa (Satan) throws at us. Our devo­tion will mean that -we- react dif­fer­ent­ly, and choose to weath­er storms with one anoth­er, storms that shred mar­riages based only on things earth­ly. Andrew says it beau­ti­ful­ly: “And we’re danc­ing in the mine­fields. We’re sail­ing in the storm. This is hard­er than we dreamed, but I believe that’s what the promise is for.” These storms are best illus­trat­ed (quite lit­er­al­ly) here: Fam­i­ly Man — Andrew Peter­son

* “Life is pain, high­ness. Any­one who says dif­fer­ent­ly is sell­ing some­thing.” ― William Gold­man, William Gold­man: Four Screen­plays with Essays

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