The Flow of Grace

I can see the question sometimes in her eyes. “Lord, why couldn’t she be more normal?”  It’s the same thought that set up house in my brain at least ten years ago.

She likes a clean and quiet house that runs on her schedule.
I love a house overflowing with people, noise, music, and laughter.

She is extremely loyal.
I play the devil’s advocate for fun.

She has seen the world and now just wants to settle down.
I crave, seek, and create adventure all day, any day.

She watches Swiss Family Robinson and is thankful at the end that she has a warm house with heat, electricity, and running water. And that her neighbors aren’t pirates who are trying to kill her.

All the while, I am plotting on how to get on the next ship, jump off at the nearest unpopulated island, build a house in the trees and find myself a pet baby elephant.

She dresses in neutral colors with small prints and delicate seams.
I love bold, bright, and simple.

Where I am comfortable, she is completely out of her element.
Where she is at home, I am the house guest desperately trying to climb out the bathroom window.

Neither with clue of what to do when it comes to doing life together.
We begin feeling threatened.

We withdraw to protect ourselves.
And the competition starts.
With our strength we attack each other’s weaknesses.
Intimacy is snipped in the bud.
We become strangers once again.

Forgetting that the only thing that brought us to this day is grace.

Grace that forgave our sin.
Grace that forgot our past.
Grace that served without reward.
Grace that laid down its life.
Grace that stayed and did not run away.
Grace that chose the cross on that day.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. –Ephesians 2

Forgetting that the only thing that will make our relationships work is extending the same grace we’ve received to each other.

Grace that forgives each other’s sin.
Grace to not only forgive, but also forget sinful histories.
Grace to serve without seeking reward.
Grace to lay down our lives.
Grace to stay when we would run away.
Grace to choose the cross every day.

And grace to preach and live the Gospel without shame.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another….  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. – Galatians 6

Relationships will not work in your life the day that others conform to your understanding of what they should be.They will work when God’s grace comes into your life and changes you into what God says you should be.
And because sanctification is a lifelong process, because we are called to love each other – we extend that grace towards each other- humbled by grace so that none can walk with an arrogant swagger but also elevated and empowered by grace so that none shuffle with downcast hopelessness.

God knows what he’s asking. Vulnerability even when you see the knife coming. Openness even when you hear the gossip in dark corners. Forgiveness even when the next offence is coming. Love even when hatred is in the throes of blind fury.

Not just even when. Especially then.

You have the grace. Take it by faith. Wield it by faith. And trust God with the consequences.

You may be abandoned. He will never leave. You may be wounded. He is the great physician. You may suffer. He will bring you into the fellowship of his suffering where you will taste a communion so pure and so sweet, you will be ruined for any other pleasure, any other comfort, any other temporary joy.

He will meet you. And He will be more near then ever before.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

I got an email today about an opportunity to work in Boston in undersea exploration. How rad is that!? I have no background in undersea stuff but I am almost finished with a Computer Science degree and have a very strong love of exploration.

In high school I worked at a life insurance company. Today I am working as a junior developer in the agricultural industry. Tomorrow I could be writing algorithms for undersea exploration. And in 10 years, who knows? I could be spearheading the creation of a completely new industry! Oh the possibilities make me so happy :)

“You’re just really smart” you’d be tempted to say, like I’m some anomaly. My family can quickly debunk that theory. I am very human.  What I am is persistent and curious. And a little bit of a control freak. (I like say I’m a recovering control freak but as I am working on trying to control my controlling tendencies, it’s hard to tell if it’s getting better or if getting worse.)

Computer Science was a good choice though.

Even for the girl who still does math on her fingers. The girl who, if it can be broken or forgotten, will break it and forget it. The girl who starts talking to herself if she’s left alone too long alone. The girl who completely fails at video games and sleeps through every sports game. The girl who loves reading history books and still pretends she’s Robin Hood sometimes.

I didn’t fit in. And I still don’t fit in.

It’s been 3 years in the Computer Science program and the guys still look at me like I’m an alien (to be fair, I don’t exactly try to remedy this). But, this doesn’t mean that I don’t belong. It means that the space I can occupy, and will occupy well, hasn’t been discovered or made yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to shape it!

As long as I can remember, I’ve been an oddball. The girl who’s way too serious about God. The girl who gets way too excited when she starts talking about the Bible. The girl who thinks too much and asks too many questions. The girl more interested in books than boys.  The girl who prefers to own one pair of shoes since it’d be less likely that she’d lose them. And then still loses them anyway.

I haven’t stopped being all these things. But things have changed these past few years.

I have stopped apologizing. For not being a white boy who went to a rich high school and likes to program instead of sleep. For not loving programming more than reading a book or talking to a person. For not quickly grasping the abstracts of mathematics.  For not being able to clearly understand my Chinese teacher’s thick accent and for being slightly scared of him. For struggling hard to articulate certain content. For feeling alone amidst of all the testosterone and being really excited to finally have a female teacher.

I’ve stopped making excuses. I’ve stopped telling myself that it’s okay to barely pass because I’m special. That it’s not okay to just ask for an answer instead of struggling through learning how to think. I’ve stopped pitying myself for the long and hard assignments and have stopped daydreaming of the English papers I could be cranking out in my sleep. I’ve recognized my intellectual laziness and propensity to leave things half done. I’ve stopped nurturing my tendency towards mediocrity and irresponsibility.

And oh, things I’ve learned. I’ve become even more incorrigible towards the impossible – I simply have to try to figure it out. I’ve become more trusting and dependent on existing good systems that have proven to be effective. I’ve learned not to hide my weaknesses but to walk in honesty. I’ve learned about the reality of consequences. I’ve learned how to ask for help, how to deal with frustration, and how not to give up. Mostly I’ve learned that I am not as great as I thought I was and that growth begins when rooted in humility and truth.

So who knows where I’ll go or what I’ll do. I’m not really concerned because I know God’s got me. I might stay, I might go. I might live long, I might die early. I might lead, I might follow. I may be alone, I may have companions. Most likely life will be a mix of those – of leading and following, of staying and going, of loneliness and companionship, and of living and dying. And yet – this all too shall pass.

Yet one thing I do know. This life shall soon be past and only what’s done for Christ will last. Wherever I go, whatever I do – may it all be for Christ.