Andy King has just written this helpful article for the Lynn News Thought for the week on the back of his excellent word he brought yesterday morning during our Sunday meeting….
I've just spent the last week (and the three previous weekends) re-decorating and renovating our house. It's nearly 200 years old and is ‘full of character' – which is a polite way of saying that it's a bit wonky. In doing so, I faced two of my biggest fears: heights (it's a three-storey townhouse) and DIY that's more complicated than painting or flat-pack furniture assembly.
If you look at the completed work, it looks lovely. The sash windows have been taken out, restored and replaced; the walls are now beautifully painted and don't flake (as an aside, let me know if you need a recommendation for a company that deals with damp); the whole place looks bright and airy again. But if you look closer, you can see the bits I've missed. Or the bits where I couldn't quite reach. Or the bits that are too broken to fix properly. I've been working flat out, maybe putting in 100-120 hours in total, but it's still not perfect.
As I worked, I kept thinking of how crucial grace – the Christian doctrine that gives me what I don't deserve, because of Jesus – was in my life. You see, we can do a certain amount of personal ‘redecoration' to make our lives look good. We can hold down a good, respectable job, do charity work, be a good parent, speak up for people and look out for others. All these things are good. But set against a God who is perfect, we will always ‘fall short' (Romans 3:23) – there will always be parts of our lives that we miss, parts we can't quite reach, and parts that are broken. Sometimes we can recognise this as guilt, or emptiness, or regret – but no matter how hard we try, we can't fix ourselves.
Which is why I'm so grateful for God's grace in my life. It's a gift (v24) that I receive by faith (v25). And the best thing is that God's renovation work never ends. The God “who began a good work in [me] will bring it to completion” when my life is over. We sing a beautiful hymn in church with the lines: “what heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease”. I'd encourage you: if you're feeling exhausted from your own efforts, why not find a church where you explore what it's like to know God's grace.
(Andy King for the Lynn News Thought for the week column)