At a conference in Atlanta this week, I found a new Theological hero. John Ortberg's theology resonated with me in a place so deep I feel as though I'm still swimming in his words. He said so many brilliant things, but my favorite was this, "In the Christian church, we have reduced grace to the forgiveness of sins."
When I first heard these words come out of his mouth, I thought, "Isn't that exactly what grace is?" And then I thought about times in my life when I have FELT grace. And he's right. Grace IS the forgiveness of sins, but it is so much more than that.
Grace is the feeling I had when sitting in a counselor's office. I wasn't sure why I was there, and I only went one time. She said to me, after talking about my fear of failure, "So what is the worst thing that would happen if you failed?" I went over all of the possibilities in my head and came to the conclusion that if I failed, the world would not explode, no one would die, and I might just learn something in the process. That simple question changed my life. Grace is having the delicious freedom to fail.
Grace is the feeling I had when I met my husband. He seemed perfect. And by that I mean that he seemed like someone who had never done anything wrong in his entire life. In an intense evening of true confessions, I found out that he was failed and flawed right along with me. You have no idea how easily I breathed after that conversation. Grace is knowing that we are all in the same boat.
Grace is the first time I laughed after my dad died. It was like I forgot for a moment that I wasn't supposed to be happy. It gave me a glimpse of what my life would feel like again one day. Grace is joy breaking into the sorrow.
Grace is the time someone told me I didn't have to pray with my hands folded and my eyes closed. Prayer is music, motion, breath and art. Prayer is communing with God in the center of what makes us feel as though the Holy Spirit is dancing in our hearts. Grace is relationship with God who meets us where we are.
My new theological hero also said that we should "burn grace like a rocket burns fuel." Can you feel the burn?