Afraid of Grace

While reading the prayer of confession at church last Sunday, these lines jumped out at me, and set my mind into a rapid spinning pattern:

Why would we shut our ears to this triumph? Why would we crawl back inside demolished prisons and drape chains across ourselves to pretend that slavery remains? Why are we so afraid of freedom? Why are we so afraid of sunlight and this new kingdom without walls? Why are we so afraid of grace?

My mind continued spinning all week, wondering why those words had hit me so hard, until last night at Gospel Community.  15 or so of us gathered at Thomas and Tiffany’s apartment and focused again on the prayer of confession.  As we reread it together, in this smaller setting, the same words jumped out at me again.  Why am I so afraid of grace? Why would I crawl back inside the prison Christ demolished?

Having grown up in a Christian home, I’m no stranger to the concept of grace.  I’ve heard all the definitions (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, etc), listened to probably hundreds of sermons on the topic.  Yet, when it comes to accepting grace in my own life, I tend to balk.  See, accepting grace means admitting that I have no control.  It means stepping off a cliff with no idea if there’s anything to catch me.  It means going running even though the very thought sends me into distress.  Accepting grace means all of these things, and I like control.  I like plans.

So, scared, I find the remnants of my former prison.  I crawl back inside.  Sure, it’s crumbling and dark, but at least there’s a solid floor.  I feel around for the chains of guilt, loneliness, distrust, and I drape them back over my arms and legs. There, I think. Now I’m safe. Now I’m in control again.

After a fitful night of sleep on the hard floor, I’m awakened by the light streaming through the cracks in the walls.  I open my eyes, terrified at this change.  I’m used to darkness, see, and the light is new and scary.  I stand up and peer outside, seeing freedom.  My heart longs for this freedom, my soul cries out for it.  I venture out a step or two, and feel control beginning to seep away.  Unable to handle it, I run back to the prison.  This repeats throughout my life.  I venture outside, sometimes even for a few weeks, getting closer and closer to abandoning myself fully to grace.

It never sticks, though.  I always get scared.  Things start going the wrong direction, the light becomes so bright that I can’t see the next step, the freedom so free that I feel myself falling, and I run back inside the prison.

But the confessional prayer doesn’t end with being afraid of grace, and neither does my story.  The prison is damp and my allergies are getting unbearable.  The chains are rusty, I don’t want tetanus, and I’m getting really tired of bread and water.

I take a deep breath, throw my chains off one last time, and spring headlong out of the prison.  I don’t know what I’m running into, but I know He’ll be there.  Even when it’s scary, He’s promised to lead me.  I finish the prayer as a feeling of freedom springs into the core of my being.

Lord Jesus, are you safe? Will I be okay if I follow you into the sunlight? Can I trust you to lead mee by still waters? Do you promise to never leave me alone?  In faith, I put my hope in you. Forsaking all else, I fix my eyes on you.


Prayer of Confession from The Painted Door, March 4, 2012 and copied from:


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