Grace Looks Both Ways

Finally, the chorus. As a noun, the definition of chorus means, "A piece of music, especially one forming part of a larger work."

For my part, it’s been powerful to hum this song down the road with you. I wonder if any of you have ever listened to or read this song as closely as we did the last few days. If so, or if not, I hope it’s been enjoyable.

The lyrics are so richly connected to the prodigal son it’s enough to fill a week like this. It's enough to fill the weak like me.

Carry on my wayward son 
For there'll be peace when you are done 
Lay your weary head to rest 
Don't you cry no more.

The chorus. Our lives, health, fitness, illness, work and relationships…music that forms part of a larger work where faith is the key, love is the rhythm, and grace is the bridge. And if we're listening, Jesus our Savior and Conductor is giving us our only note: "me, me, me, me, me...Me."

T’was Grace
Former slave trader turned pastor turned hymn writer, John Newton, once wrote a line that because of it’s familiarity and commonality, many of us miss completely:

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear
and grace my fears relieved.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear. Do you agree? Does it cause you to pause? At first we don’t want to accept the fact that it takes grace to fear God and that it’s a gift when we do. Until we realize that without a fear of God we won’t approach Him with the kind of trembling that brings about redemption and the eventual relief left in its path.

And there it is. That’s the tension. When you squat down in the middle of the dusty lane and reach for loose sediment, it’s the decision you roll between your fingers and thumb. And when you’re left with just one stone, the painful and hopeful truth is as convicting as it is comforting. The same grace that convicts us is the grace that pardons us. Along this road, grace looks both ways.

Alistair Begg recently taught, “When we fear God, we run to him, not from him. The fear of God could deliver us from all our other fears.”

Wow. Read that last part again. Then consider that while our prodigal feared what his dad would do to him or how he would be received, the boy knew what he had to do. Fearing God and the actions it requires means all other fears will have to stand down. It means character is built in the little steps, the hard swallows and tough words. Fearing God and the actions it requires means we love Him.

Well, as the song nears its final note, I’m sentimental. The road to character is full of rocks of sin, guilt, fear, grace and salvation.

I’ll let Alistair close out the week with a prayer for prodigals and wayward sons and daughters like me and you. If you’re still with me, say “carry on” in the comment section.

Lord Jesus Christ, I am so foolish. Give me your wisdom to see and follow your truth. Lord Jesus Christ, I am full of guilt and have no peace. But you have died to bring forgiveness and the assurance of pardon. I trust you to be my Savior, and by your grace, I turn away from sin. Lord Jesus Christ, I am weak. Give me your power, and rule in my heart and over my whole life, forever and ever. Amen.

- Jimmy Peña