Friday, August 25, 2017

My Soul Is Hungry For Grace

I've spent a lot of my life feeling like if I could just do better, I would make it (to the end of whatever goal I was working on).

If I could just choose the right all the time, everything would be okay.

If I did everything correctly, then I would yield the desired results.

That's not actually how this world works, though.  In SOME circumstances those kinds of IF/THEN statements are true.  But in so many circumstances - especially in the circumstances that people like to turn a blind eye to - those same IF/THEN statements become false.

So what are you supposed to do when everything you've ever believed or understood to be true doesn't actually work out to be true all the time?  That's when you want to lose faith.  That's when you question.

In the end, though, you realize that you just needed to question the lens you were using to view the truth you'd been taught.  For example, your questioning will lead you to find the truth of Jesus Christ's gospel vs. the gospel as defined by __(fill in the blank)__.  And that's when you find that the truth has been the same yesterday, today, and forever, but the trick is that you didn't actually understand it all the way, and you still have a lot to learn in order to understand it completely.


I was talking to a friend about her Christian Church, and I had attended a similar service at another church for the funeral of a friend.  I mentioned that I LOVED the speaker system, and the worship team, and the band (I'm a music person, what can I say?).  My friend who attends that kind of church all the time said, "Really?  I think it's all a little over rated."

I was shocked.  After 30+ years of attendance at a traditional Mormon church setting with subdued organ playing, and after being "on the worship team" of sorts at various times leading the choir, or playing organ, when I've attended other churches I have LOVED the difference in the music found at these other churches.  I love the music at my own church, too, but I also loved what was found in the spiritual expression, and the lyrics of these songs that were new to me.

I have also attended a Catholic wedding - in the which the organ player played the most exhilarating, stunning, full-of-open-stops, breath-taking, spiritually moving, tear-welling kind of organ music I've never yet been allowed (or brave enough) to play at my church.

I guess what happens to us all in our different churches is that we get used to the things we have on a normal basis and then sometimes they don't feel new to us, and they seem over-rated, but that doesn't make any of them bad, or not useful.

I can't wait for the day that either all the believers of Jesus on their own accord, OR the Lord Himself in the Second Coming (whichever might happen first), will combine all the best music from all the churches, and we all feel spiritually uplifted by the expression as One Fold with One Shepherd, because there will be a style and message that reaches everyone (not to mention, we'll all know Him personally by then, so we'll all REALLY be singing our hearts out to the hymns at whatever congregation we attend).  So since that unity across all the believers in Jesus hasn't necessarily happened, yet, I have made my own hybrid worshiping experience - I listen to Christian Rock all the week long, and then I thoroughly enjoy the organ music at my church because it's different and I haven't heard it for a week, and then I daydream about the day that we can install amazing sound systems for the "worship team" in all the Mormon churches, and play organ with open & exhilarating stops, backed by a full gospel choir. :)


Dallin H Oaks gave a talk 9 years ago called, "Have you been saved"

It talks about all the different meanings people in our church ascribe to the word "saved" or "salvation".  Mormons believe in at least 6 different meanings or angles to that word.

SO THIS IS MY OPINION:  If Mormons have so much to focus on with this extra truth and knowledge that we proclaim to have, surely just because we have "more" restored truth than other sects of Christianity doesn't necessarily mean that all of us in the church UNDERSTAND all of the truth.  Sometimes we can get a little self-righteous because we say we have "all the truth".   However, the rest of Christianity is hyper-focused on GRACE (and Mormons are focused on it, too, but they tend to use the word "Atonement" in a synonymous way, so we think we believe something different, but it's not exactly true that we believe in something different because the word sounds different, but we're just using different words that have basically the same ascribed meanings in the way we're using those particular words). Essentially, IF the rest of the Christian world is hyper-focused on Grace, surely they may have discovered some beautiful things about Grace that we still might not understand as individuals, because across the board we're still trying to learn everything there is to know about all these other parts to being saved, so it can be easy to miss or forget some basic parts to understanding grace.

Let's talk lyrics:

Casting Crowns

"Jesus friend of sinners the one who's writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring your people to their knees

Nobody knows what we're for, only against, when we judge the wounded What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did
Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours"

This is a beautiful prayer that resonates in my soul.  It's everything that Mormons believe, too, but it wasn't written by a Mormon.  That doesn't take the truth away.  I hear this song and I see Alma 31 enacted in a new way - I view the story of the people who thought they were righteous up on their Rameumptoms, but in a new way.  This song reminds me of the Sadducees and the Pharisees who missed the whole point of the gospel with all of their extra self-imposed & made up rules.  I think about the way I've defined the gospel and held myself to certain standards that were not written anywhere else but in my head, and then judged others who didn't live up to those standards, and then subsequently judged myself when I couldn't keep up all the extra extras like the Jews and the Pharisees, but have realized that just like the people on the Rameumptom, I was missing the whole point of the gospel when I got caught up in that outlook...the trick is that I didn't think I had that perspective, and I certainly wasn't TRYING to have that perspective, but sometimes the pride of that kind of thinking can sneak up in certain ways.  So that's why I NEED this particularly beautiful prayer.

"Point to You" by We Are Messengers

"I know You want my heart
My bruises and my scars
I'm coming as I am
The only way I can
I can't forget from where I've come
And what my heart's been rescued from
Yeah when they ask me who
I owe my whole life to
I point to You
I point to You
I want so badly just to finally get well
But I don't want a quick fix and emotional self
I will be honest with my humanity
No I'm not perfect and I don't pretend to be
I need a miracle
Some healing for my heart
I need a revelation
A brand new start
I want simplicity
Where I can rest
But I need a miracle to put my past to death"

These words are SO REAL.

They speak the feelings of my heart and the way the Lord saves me in grace every day. Christ wants me even with my bruises and my scars.  They make me who I am because I'm only as good as my entirely and truthfully broken version of myself.  I can only come to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit if I know where I am broken and stop pretending that I'm perfect so that others will think well of me.  Just because someday I hope to overcome these things doesn't mean that I have yet.  If and when I do, it certainly doesn't mean that if I overcame it I did it on my own with my own works and strength.  Jesus is at every step of the way. If you have a particular life circumstance that you think you earned, Jesus was actually the one who gave it to you.  If you have a particular life circumstance that crumbled apart no matter what you could do to save it, Jesus either took it away from you because sometimes He allows that to teach us things, or maybe the crumbling of that circumstance wasn't caused by His will, but He's going to be there for you and carry you as He manifests Himself by picking up all the pieces for you until you can get on your feet again.  There are other reasons that things happen to people, but these are some very consistent scenarios I've been finding in my own life.


At any rate, I'm tired now.  Not just because I'm up late blogging.  But I'm tired for a lot of reasons.  And that's why I need Jesus.  That's why sometimes I have to pray minute by minute.  That's why I have Christian Rock on all day.  That's why I play organ at church.

I need His grace more than ever before.

My heart and mind and soul is HUNGRY, THIRSTY, and CRAVING His beautiful, amazing, liberating, life-creating, perspective-changing, freeing, healing, renewing, & empowering grace.