Shame and Grace Part 10 - The Encounter With Grace

Dec 14

Shame and Grace Part 10 - The Encounter With Grace

Fri, 12/14/2012 - 07:42 — Thabo Mokete

While grace points to the mystery of a divine gift toward human beings, it is not magic. It is a real encounter where God meets man, right at the point where the person is, at the point of his or her need.

The provision of grace is unlimited and we have all benefited. From gifts in nature to divine revelation. Knowledge and wisdom continue to be given to us for growth and healing. The knowledge of medicine itself is part of the gift of grace. The philosophy, the psychology, the engineering, and all others. All these things would not be possible but for the undeserved divine assistance given to mankind.

It all comes down to one thing: The restoration and healing of the human race. Giving them a ladder and the help they need to climb back to the dizzy heights from where they fell; Where they belong, with the Creator.

As the world turns and appears darker and evil; As human hearts grow colder and unloving, many are despairing. But this is the situation where the grace of God is more urgently working in the hearts of men and women. It is as the apostle Paul said that the more the sin abounds, the grace abounded even more.1

There is no person who is out of reach. Each breath we take, each new morning's supply of energy and soundness of mind is freely given without merit.

However, so many are not even thinking about of these provisions. It is so natural to simply live from day to day, taking life for granted. So many are not aware of what lies dormant in them. They  do not hear the voice of God calling them from deep within their souls.

The grace of God works with a person long before she becomes aware of it. It is only when she awakens to look back that she sees how long the work was begun in her. The work that patiently and painstakingly progresses to the point of encounter.

The guilt and shame that persists in the soul is an act of grace. The moral law had to come before the grace, but is itself an act of grace to man. A gift.2

There comes a time when the soul feels the shame more acutely than before, the guilt so unbearable that it leads to despair. Then the pride of the soul is all lost and only self-disgust and loathing remains. It is darkest in the soul. That is often a moment when one is ready for an encounter with the grace of God. Down there at the bottom if the ladder.

This encounter with grace begins with a strong sense of guilt and shame, towards despair. The soul feels the unbearable and unacceptable state of things inside and outside.

The way of ignoring guilt and being in denial about the real state of things is not grace. It is complacency. It is a way of saying, lets see what tomorrow brings. Meanwhile the situation escalates into a crisis.

Thus the function of guilt and shame belongs with grace. Both guilt and shame make our meeting with grace possible. It breaks down our false sense of pride, complacency and self righteousness. For it is pride that makes it impossible for us to receive grace. Often we have to go through humiliation and pain before we let go of the pride that prevents us from being reconciled to life.

The point at which we become aware of our wretchedness and our helplessness to redeem it, is the point at which we look at grace in the eye. We are met with acceptance right at that point. We are not asked to change something, but we receive the acceptance we could not find in our own selves.

The acceptance leads both to comfort and reconciliation. First to comfort in soothing the wounds and binding the injuries sustained earlier in life. One at a time the wounds are given attention.

Reconciliation includes the forgiveness of our upset nature.3 Breathing a new meaning to the things of the past and no longer bringing them as judgment and accusation.

We are reconciled back to the life that we are estranged from.4 We could not reconcile ourselves. What God does for our condition is is what we could not do for ourselves.

The endless stream of accusations towards the soul are brought to a stop, in spite of the guilt and shame. Compassion takes over. The hostilities and the war between conscious thought and instinct cease.

The person is brought back to his or her senses. It is like something new is born. Something that sees life differently.5 This new thing is born in the encounter with grace.

All along we could not see we were accepted because we were trying so hard to be good and to impress the world and the Creator. Meanwhile He has been standing there with arms open wide. This awareness is mind-blowing when it comes. Accepted!

There is no need to try anything. Just stack your everything in this acceptance. When we have stopped trying to be good, we are at a place where the providence of life can persist in us and through us with light and life giving properties. The grace of God breathes life in those darkest parts of our souls.  

The journey to our destiny of well being and love is guaranteed. However, it will not be achieved by our own mechanical means. We will have not a word to boast when we get there, but only that we met Someone who made it all possible.



References:
1. Romans 5:20
2. John 1:16-17
3. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
4. Tillich, Paul. The New Being. New York: Charles Scribnerís Sons , 1955. http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=375
5. Katie, Byron; Mitchell, Stephen (2008-12-26). Loving What Is. Random House UK. Kindle Edition.

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