Monday, May 23, 2005

Grace: a Two-way Street

Ever wonder why you sometimes seem to get no response from God in time of temptation or trial? Ever call on the name of the Lord without results? Before you conclude that God is hard of hearing or unconcerned with your needs, reflect a little on the meaning of divine grace.

Grace, as you know, is God's life, God's love flowing into us. It is the divine gift of his own indwelling presence. So if God's love (and hence his power) is flowing into us, why doesn't much happen? Maybe it's because nothing is flowing back.

Grace isn't a drug, a magic potion, or an automatic solution to our problems. Our relationship with God has to be just that: a relationship. This means that Love requires a response of love from us. If God's grace is to bear fruit in our lives, we have to love Him back. What is it that we love? In times of temptation, it may be that we secretly love whatever the temptation promises, though we half-heartedly turn to God because we know that sin is wrong. In times of trial or suffering, perhaps what we really desire is simply deliverance from the affliction and not a richer encounter with God.

What if we were to send back love to the Lord in times of trial or temptation? What if we decided that we were going to love Him in the midst of our afflictions, and trust his love to be the strength and comfort we need? Grace bears fruit when we respond to God's love with ours. We may just discover that there's more strength in our love than we thought, because it has given us access to the inexhaustible grace of God. It has created a place for Him to work within us.

Sure, call on the name of the Lord--but not as you would call a plumber or a mechanic, for his job is not merely to fix things. Rather, He makes all things new. Open your heart to Jesus' love, and know that his heart is open to yours. Then you shall know the Lord. Then ask and you shall receive.