Amazing Grace

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I think I’m starting to see a pattern here. I’m really discovering a direct connection between two things in my life. But before I get to that, let me tell you a bit about my day.

Probably the highlight of the day was Parenting class – which is quite unusual considering how much I hate that class. It’s normally so boring and repetitive, but today was a different type of class. Instead of reading the book or taking up questions, we watched a taped episode of SuperNanny from last night. I must say, that was a very disturbing show.

I’ve never been the type of person to sit down and watch shows like that and Dr. Phil. To me, it seems like just a big money-making scam to exploit people and dysfunctional families to make a profit. That’s what most things seem to be these days – any way people can make a buck, they take it. I mean, I have nothing against Dr. Phil or Jo (SuperNanny) as people; I’m sure they have honest intentions and are truly trying to help people. It’s the media organizations that I can’t stand. Here are people, trying to get help, and the only way they can do that is to sell their personal life to millions of viewers on multinational television. They get the help for free, but with a catch – they have to give away all their rights to privacy and let millions of people have an in-depth peek into their homes. To me, that’s disgusting. I mean, I suppose if it’s their choice, then they can go right ahead with it, but they shouldn’t have to do that in order to get the help they most desperately need. They should be given help without having to know that people are watching how stupid they are and saying to themselves, “My oh my, what horrible people! How could they raise their children that badly?” I know I wouldn’t want to know that people were saying that about me, even if it were true.

But anyways, that’s not the point. This episode of SuperNanny was about a young couple with two boys, ages 7 and 3, I believe. These kids were not disciplined at all, didn’t listen to their parents, and even bit and kicked them. It made me sick to watch as they were tearing the house apart and their mother was just standing there saying, “Don’t do that, that’s not nice.” The dad would come home after work and fly off the handle at his kids, yelling at them and just making them more unruly. It truly made me feel disturbed, that these people just had no control over their kids. The lady that plays SuperNanny then came in and taught them how to discipline their children, how to set up rules in the household, and how to play games with their kids to help them have fun. These all seemed to be foreign concepts to these people. It was like they had never heard of the word “fun,” or the fact that kids need games to keep them occupied – especially little rambunctious boys. But all in all, it was much better than reading a textbook, and it was very relieving to finally see these people learning how to raise their kids the way they should.

That’s about all that was interesting today. Over the last couple of days, I’ve posted pretty depressing entries. The past few days have been a strange time, with lots of feelings flaring up that I really didn’t know how to deal with. And I remember mentioning how perhaps it was partly due to the inductive Bible study that I’ve been going through. I’m starting to definitely see the correlation between my study life and my life in general. Every time I get deeply into the Word and learn something amazing or reinforce something awesome I’ve learned before, I start getting God’s joy in my life. It’s almost strange to the point of being eerie how it happens. Over the past few days, nothing’s really jumped out at me. I’ve been studying the fourth chapter of Philippians, a book primarily on joy, but the concepts I was focusing on according to the study book wasn’t really showing me anything new. I quickly drifted down to a strange state with no joy in my life. It was strange how quickly it disappeared, and it was strange how it came back just as quickly when I started digging into God’s Word again.

Perhaps this whole thing is just a feeling – I’m really not quite sure. But what are feelings? Aren’t they just a state of mind that you take on? Something bad happens, and you feel sad – you take on a sad state of mind. So how can you say something like “I am joyful” if you don’t feel that joy? It’s pretty impossible as far as I’m concerned. Some people like to draw out the distinction between happiness and joy, as happiness is dependent on one’s circumstances, and joy is dependent on God’s faithfulness, which never changes. However, both are states of mind. They may be produced by different sources, but the effect is the same. You can’t be joyful without having a feeling of happiness. I might go as far as to say that joy produces happiness – some people simply go after happiness, when they should be going for the joy that produces it instead.

Anyways, whatever the case, I feel joyful. I can distinctly remember the exact time last night that it came on. I was sitting and watching my church’s presentation of Last Chance. It was right at the end, when the director of the program got up on stage and was talking to the audience about responding to accept Christ as their Saviour. He had everyone bow their heads and close their eyes, and was asking people to raise their hands if they wanted to accept Christ. And right at that moment, I realized exactly what I already had. During the presentation, I saw several people stand before God and be judged – with either the reward of heaven or the punishment of hell. And I suddenly rediscovered the fact that I knew exactly where I’m going when I die. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind, because God has said that if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, then I’m saved. No question about it. I’ve done both of those, and I know that God’s grace has completely covered me. It’s like a massive blanket that envelops you. In fact, it’s so massive, that it completely entangles you. I couldn’t even get out of it if I wanted to. Paul put it this way: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) And how does God display His love? Through His grace, of course.

If you’re a Christian today, and you’re reading this, you can know without a shadow of a doubt that you will stand before God when you die and will receive one unlimited pass to heaven. If not, you don’t have that assurance. And, sitting in that auditorium last night, I remembered just how much I have. I’ve got everything. I’ve got a massive inheritance from my Father that surpasses anything else I could ever hope to get. I mean, what could be more important than eternal life? A new car? A house? I don’t think so. I honestly started crying tears of joy in that auditorium when I remembered everything I have, and everything I take for granted so often. And in like a flood, the joy of the Lord rushed in. It was as if I had been building a big dam to stop up the flow, and suddenly the dam broke; joy poured in.

Today’s devotion was awesome. The book instructed me to write down all the things that can be learned about Christ from chapter four of Philippians. And while chapter two would likely be better for this purpose, chapter four did just as well. It talks about how we need to stand firm in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, how our hearts and minds are guarded in Him, how He gives us strength to do everything, and how He gives us grace. Some would say that the last verse is more of just a nice little ending that Paul stuck on the end there to sound good. I don’t think so. In every single one of his letters, Paul puts an ending similar to that, talking about Christ’s grace. Obviously that grace was important to him, and that means it should be important to me as well. I must say that it definitely is to me now. There’s nothing that anyone could do that’s greater than what Christ did on the cross for me. Not only did he endure brutal torture, bitter mocking, and a painful, excruciating death on a cross, but he also made it possible for me to inherit eternal life and restore the relationship between God and me. If that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.

I guess you could say that I’m now joyful. My eyes have been opened, even if only slightly, to the amazing grace in which I’ve been wrapped. If it’s just a feeling, then I hope it’s a feeling I never lose. I’d hate to have to go through this unjoyful stage all over again. And while I likely will have to go through it, perhaps I’ll go back and read this post and help myself to realize it all over again. The cure for all depression in this world is summed up in God’s grace and love for all of us. In fact, it can be described in only one word: amazing.

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