Soul Work: Graceland Romans 8: 28-39

IFLYI was at a birthday party and honoree’s sister in law, Shelly Jackson, who is the Marketing Director of IFLY was telling us about this new venture that is exploding all over the country. It is the new indoor sky diving wind tunnel in Frisco. Yes, that is me in the photo, awkwardly flying. I could have shown you Terri’s picture but I want to eat lunch with her. Shelly was telling us how much she is enjoying her job and how the venture seems to be doing so well, she is selling package left and right. In fact, members of our United States military are flying in the tunnel this morning. Some of us started asking if IFLY is making money, knowing how expensive it must be to run that operation. Shelly response was classic, “I don’t get into all that profit and loss ledger stuff, I just love going to work everyday.”IFLY

A life marked by a ledger of merits and demerits can’t understand grace. Grace doesn’t fit the patterns of earning, which is where most live. We depend upon our ego achieving ways, not knowing how to receive freely. We prefer scarcity or at least quid pro quo in order to understand and accept things as they are in the world. As long as we play the “I deserve it script”, we’ll appeal only to our self-interests, never rising to the mystical banquet Jesus offers. Our lives will be about duty rather than delight, “jars of purification” instead of gallons of wine at the end of the party!

It’s an immense humiliation to the ego to know we can’t earn, achieve, merit, or “get enlightened” by any technique or formula whatsoever to love God and neighbor. Only grace can move us beyond the tired story line of reward and punishment, which we’ve largely mirror from our ego-based culture. Only grace can reform us and recapture the good news religion isn’t about of requirements that count and measure. We can’t get there by our own willpower we can only be there; surrendering to the force of love.

God-EgoSome persons are held back from trusting God’s goodness because of a “angry parent in the sky” view we’ve created. Scripture revealed in Jesus tells us God’s purposes aren’t achieved by punishment, but by the divine initiative of grace. Grace motivates us to partner with God, relishing in the love of God, which we cannot be separated. God freely offers love, which transforms us from within, which is pure grace and surely far greater than what we can do with the punishment looming on the horizon.

The concept of grace was called mercy, hesed in Hebrew, it means faithful, covenant-bound love of God, it comes to us by God’s initiative. In the New Testament grace was called charis. It means God’s divine, gracious, favor, it comes to us by God’s initiative. Grace is the primary story of the Bible. If we miss it, the rest is distorted and even destructive.God's Idea

Paul affirms the power of God’s grace offered freely. We see God’s grace provides (v. 32). 
The Creator of the cosmos loves us so much God gave us the Son. If God provides the greater gift, we need not worry about the lesser things. God’s grace protects. Paul says, “If God is for us, who’s against us?” The Holy Spirit is an older brother or sister who always keeps an eye on us. God’s grace is always present (vv. 35-39)
Nothing can separate us from the loving presence of God. We can live in Graceland!

Moving into Graceland-We have already established that in order to live in Graceland, the Shadow Self must die and we must walk in the light of God’s love, which illuminates our route to Graceland. We will no longer choose the wide gate that leads to easy street. We can’t see all the way the love of God can change the world and us on a crowded highway. We will travel through the narrow gate on the road less travel. There we can see clearly grace show up in our lives every day in so many ways.

BridgeOnce we move into Graceland we can look back and see all the ways the shadow self died. In Graceland, we see the road paved by resurrections that led us to this new land. It’s a joy to look back and see something or someone built a bridge that crossed us over to new life. This bridge is only recognizable after we have come to the other side. We did not cross it on our own; we were carried across by unearned grace. Now, we’re no longer afraid of falling or failing. We know it was at the bottom of things we found the full measure of the grace of God. Grace is like water that pools up in a crevice, it always seeks us at our lowest place.

Grace isn’t something God gives; grace is who God is. Grace is God’s job description. What God does with grace is lovingly join together all things, which God created. God’s goodness fills the gaps without discrimination or preference. The space in between everything is not space, but Spirit, the “goodness glue” that brings even the dark and light together. Our ego driven and fragmented parts, our gaps are filled by the grace of God. We have gracefully received every gift we will ever need to live. There’s no shortage of anything in Graceland for we abide in the very presence of God, whose Spirit abides in our True Selves.is-god-hiding

Living in Graceland– Some feel that because life is hard they’ve not been graced. It feels like God is hiding and life no better than ordinary, not filled fully with God’s grace. The only prerequisite for receiving grace is to receive what is front of us at this moment as a gift of grace. Each moment can reveal God isn’t hiding if we will receive what is before at this present moment as the grace of God. God’s grace becomes apparent when each moment is seen as a gift. Those who receive grace gifts well keep receiving more gifts; grace builds on grace, the gift of grace cannot be exhausted.

In Graceland the Spirit generates small and large miraculous grace-filled acts day by day. The only thing that can separate us from living full-time in Graceland is our unwillingness to trust grace is an utterly unmerited gift. This keeps us from detecting all the ways we are being graced. By faith we choose to relish in the divine abundance of unmerited generous grace so we might be transformed in new ways. Our soul knows new life because we are sharing in the life of God who is eternally giving grace away for nothing except for the love of giving grace to you and me.

falling-in-loveLiving in Graceland is like falling in love. The more we trust the person whom loves us the deeper we fall in love with them. Trust notices grace at every turn, leading us to fall more deeply in love with God and neighbor. Graceland is heaven on earth. In Graceland, we taste the riches of God’s mercy, trusting more and more in God’s goodness. We’re in Graceland!

The primary witnesses, the mystics, the saints, transformed people have declared through the centuries that an unexplainable goodness is at work in the universe. God is filling the space between everything; redeeming bad and magnifying good. Let’s stop counting so we can live more fully in Graceland! Let me introduce you to Katherine Wolfe who exemplifies what it is like to live in Graceland. You will her say, “We have been very blessed to suffer at a young age because it informs the way we live the rest of our life.” See how Katherine and her husband live in Graceland.

This is what it means to live in Graceland. We join God in filling in all the divided places in our lives and world with the love of God that has been gracefully offered to us. What has happened in Christ is all that needs to happen. Let us partner with God in what God has already done, offering grace filled love to others in the way we have received grace in our lives.

The songwriter Paul Simon wrote the song Graceland. It ends with: For reasons I cannot explain there’s some part of me wants to see Graceland. And I may be obliged to defend every love, every ending. Or maybe there are no obligations now. Maybe I’ve a reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland. 

Our merciful God waits for us to arrive in Graceland

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Published in: on June 29, 2014 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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