Letting Grace Complete Its Work

Joshua from Virginia wrote in response to my recent Breaking Free blog, show how that process has not been easy for him. I love the issue he raised and how he responded to what I wrote. Grace is not something we get for a day or two, it’s something we need for life. We will stumble and fall but as you can see in this exchange, God transforms us faster when we keep relishing grace, not as we stew in condemnation.

I read the article, Breaking Free, and it kind of broke my heart. Why? Well, Wayne, I’ve written that letter before (the letter from the guy who’s in the early stages of getting free); I’ve felt that relief; and now I’m back where I was so many times before: metaphorically eating chocolate-covered dung (i.e. sinning).

It’s a nearly unbearable heartache to go through this again. I mean, I know I have nowhere else to turn but Jesus, but I hate the thought that I’ll have another spiritual catharsis, write you a letter like that guy did, and then be spiritually sick again in another four or five months. Can you offer any words of encouragement? I feel broken and down – and the kind of irritating thing is I probably will not feel so bad in a couple of hours – then I’ll probably do something stupid again later on today and wonder whether I’ll ever have a stable Christian life. This is not healthy.

Here’s how I responded to him: This journey can be complicated some times, can’t it? I’m sorry you’ve gotten sidetracked again somehow, but anyone on this journey knows what that is like. Yes, it seems we make great headway for a season, then find ourselves marooned again on our own self-pleasure and wonder what it is all about.

The letter you read is not a momentary catharsis. I am in touch with the man who wrote it and some wonderful things are going on in his life that I’m certain will bear fruit years down the line. But I guess time will tell us for sure. One thing I know is that this growing in Christ often has times of fits and starts and distractions and falls and the people who find freedom and fruitfulness are the ones who keep getting back up, going to God accepting his forgiveness and drawing near 40 times a day if need be.

It seems guilt might be overriding you in failure. It makes you feel bad for a while, then lets you up and then slaps you down again. That’s pretty consistent. Somehow God needs to make it real for you that he is your partner in sorting out this bondage, not your critic and judge waiting for you to get it right. Invite him in, even at the moment of failure and let him do what he needs to do in you to set you free.

He’s really good at this; we are not. He just wants you to get to the end of yourself, so you won’t keep trying to do what only he can do. I don’t know anything more encouraging than that!!!!

You go, Bro! This is what the journey is like at times. Discouragement only ensures the cycle. Receiving his affection at the place of our brokenness is what breaks it. I’m praying for the latter in your case…

I loved what he wrote back:

I want to thank you for that encouraging email. The grace with which you communicate gives me hope that the promised rest discussed in Hebrews really can be experienced here on this earth. Wayne, thank you for caring about the people who come to your website for clarity and relief; thank you for taking our emails seriously – and not taking yourself so seriously. I know you don’t have all the answers, but your understanding of the love of Christ encourages me to draw near to Him, even in my brokenness.

I’m going to get back up and trust Jesus. I’m going to trust that He’s not just a nice one of us, that His grace truly is sufficient. I’ve been believing in an insufficient grace lately – a grace that stands aloof, arms crossed, wondering when I’m going to pull myself together. That’s just not true. Thank you for being a gasp of fresh air for an oxygen-deprived mind.

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12 Comments
  1. Steve November 17, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    Wow, I can sure relate to that brother. So many times I have had to rely on the forgive seven times seventy story to remember that Father wouldn’t ask us to do what He doesn’t also do Himself.

  2. Kent November 17, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Steve November 17, 2005 at 7:55 pm

    Wow, I can sure relate to that brother. So many times I have had to rely on the forgive seven times seventy story to remember that Father wouldn’t ask us to do what He doesn’t also do Himself.

  4. J November 17, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    Hang in there. Lots of us are where you are at and we can and do encourage each other for something better—JESUS!

  5. Kent November 17, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. J November 18, 2005 at 12:31 am

    Hang in there. Lots of us are where you are at and we can and do encourage each other for something better—JESUS!

  7. Dave A. from RI November 18, 2005 at 10:04 am

    Yes, wow, I can also relate. Been in that place too many times of feeling shamed and helpless. I appreciate your repsonse to Joshua as well, Wayne. Joshua, thank you for your realness.

    Dave

  8. Dave A. from RI November 18, 2005 at 1:04 pm

    Yes, wow, I can also relate. Been in that place too many times of feeling shamed and helpless. I appreciate your repsonse to Joshua as well, Wayne. Joshua, thank you for your realness.

    Dave

  9. beeba November 20, 2005 at 4:05 pm

    yes I can relate too…I needed to read this today…not many out there seem to be able to give an encouraging word to someone in struggle…it’s all about trust…do I follow my feelings…or do I trust Him to meet my needs…yes in this moment I do…may I in the next as well

  10. beeba November 20, 2005 at 7:05 pm

    yes I can relate too…I needed to read this today…not many out there seem to be able to give an encouraging word to someone in struggle…it’s all about trust…do I follow my feelings…or do I trust Him to meet my needs…yes in this moment I do…may I in the next as well

  11. Totila November 21, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    I think that anyone who has entered into the Lord’s rest to any degree will be able to relate to that cry of desperation from Joshua’s heart, but the only way to get from Egypt (sin and the world system) to the Promised Land (resting in Jesus) is through the wilderness and it is there that we learn about our own helplessness and God’s faithfulness. All He wants from us is to trust that He is able to get us there, and He is able to build that trust into us if we will let Him.

  12. Totila November 21, 2005 at 5:19 pm

    I think that anyone who has entered into the Lord’s rest to any degree will be able to relate to that cry of desperation from Joshua’s heart, but the only way to get from Egypt (sin and the world system) to the Promised Land (resting in Jesus) is through the wilderness and it is there that we learn about our own helplessness and God’s faithfulness. All He wants from us is to trust that He is able to get us there, and He is able to build that trust into us if we will let Him.

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