It's time to pull up your chair. Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria? You do. It's reserved every week only for you. This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone. This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter. Scooch in close. You won't want to miss a word.
To read more about the Soli Deo Gloria community, please click here.
Annie and I attend church together and she was instrumental in the calling to be of s(He) Listens Ministries. At the retreat she will be talking about her own risk-taking adventure on the bus routes of Austin...which God turned into a book -- a book that you can win. If you would like a chance to win Annie's book, Real Austin: The Homeless and the Image of God, tell me you liked her author page on FB, which you can find here.
A better poet than I am put it like this:
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King.
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for his death they thirst and cry.
Palm Sunday reminds me again how capable I am of praising Jesus and then cursing him. How quickly I turn away from him. How easily I stray. How often I fail and make a mess of things. How very much time I spend in sin.
I love this reminder because it draws me back to the sweet sorrow of weeping over my sins. That may sound strange but like Good Friday and Easter, joy and sorrow go hand in hand. They can't be separated. We can't know the joy of grace unless we face the reality of sin first.
Self-examination and confession can be bleak but we are not left without hope. There is nothing better to me than the bitterness of sin swallowed up by a fresh wave of grace.
My book, Real Austin: The Homeless and the Image of God, is about this dynamic of sin and grace. In it, I confront my own sin. Every day on the bus, I fail to acknowledge the humanity of the homeless men and women I meet. I treat them like objects. I react to them like they are
stray dogs. I look past them like so much trash. In short, I am revolted by them. Under the influence of my visceral response, I am unable to treat them with anything like the dignity they deserve.
This is the ugly truth about me and my failure to love them the way Jesus loves them.
It's not the whole story, though. On the other side of confession is forgiveness. Just beyond the bleak picture of how heartily I've failed, there is hope. There are signs of life in the moments of connection I have with the homeless when I see the real truth about their humanity. When I cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit, I shine through, more human than I am in my sins. I am more myself, more truly reflecting the image of God. I am all of this through grace.
These are the things I wanted to write about—the darkness of sin and the lightness of grace—in the hopes that others might find hope in the journey. We can't avoid confronting our sins. We can't merely wave a hand at sin in the abstract or assent to our status as sinners intellectually. We have to know in our guts all the ways we sin day in and day out. But if we stopped there, we'd be dead in our sins. We also have to know in our guts that there is more to us than our sins.
Justifying our own sinful behavior is hard. It takes an immense amount of energy to argue to ourselves and everyone around us that we really are okay. That is wasn't so bad. That it isn't such a big deal. There is a lighter burden, friends, and Jesus calls us to it. His yoke is
easy and all it takes is naming your sins and, through grace, going on to do what is right in Him. Every day, make a new beginning.
Annie is graciously giving away one of her books, which you can win by liking her author FB page (please tell me you did this in the comments) and answering this question: What risk might God be asking you to take today, or in the near future?
SDG Community Builder: 1) In effort to make sure everyone feels loved here, will you please visit the 2 people ahead of you and leave a comment for them? 2) If you are new here, please let us know so we can give you some extra love by putting "I'm New!" as your caption. 3) Enter to win Annie's book! 4) I have a few more orders for t-shirts, so I am going to make another order from the shirt company. If you want one this time around, will you let me know? (Shirt design in the sidebar)