December 31, 2013 by Beth Hess
I do a quick review. Speed is Ok. Seatbelt on. Cell phone out of reach. Registration sticker up-to-date. Blinker on for changing lanes.
Panic turns to pride. Well, just look at me, the model driver. That officer must be so very impressed with me. Not a gosh-darn thing to concern him here. I bet I just made his day to be so near a wonderful law-abiding citizen. Yes, I did just let that merging car in EXACTLY as I learned in driver’s education. What a banner day for both of us to behold!
Put me anywhere near a police officer, and it won’t take me long to make two mental lists: Things I’m Doing Right and Things I’m NOT Doing Wrong. (Sometimes a 3rd: Things Just a Little Bit Wrong That I Stopped Doing as Soon as I Saw You and Promise not to Do Again When You’re Gone.)
For a long, long time, I reacted the very same way when I felt God slip in behind me.
Panic or Pride.
I loved to feel His presence in church. How glad He must be I came to visit Him.
I welcomed His warmth when I picked Christian radio over Country. Score one for sinless songs.
I knew He was near when I wrote out my offering check. And didn’t laugh at dirty jokes. And skipped questionable parties.
And because I’d had enough Sunday School to know God is always with me, even when I forget He might be there, I was usually pretty careful not to get myself into a situation that might prove embarrassing if I spotted Him eyeing me from the corner. (Oops, officer, I didn’t see you there, but I’m always keeping my nose clean, just in case.)
If God is spying on me, goodness knows I will be, well, GOOD.
Then one day a series of lessons that came over many, many days finally clicked.
God never asked me to be good. Because His standard isn’t good — it’s sinless. And despite all my perfectionistic efforts, I couldn’t do it. But he already knew that. So He made another way.
So I stopped sucking in my spiritual gut and checking my sins when God slipped in behind me. And I learned to welcome Him simply being there. To hang out. To hold “church.” To let Him lead the conversation.
Panic or pride gave way to His presence.
Grace has captured my heart, turned everything on its head, set me free, and let me breath again.
In 2014, God has invited me to welcome “Grace” as my One Little Word.
To come and see. To show and tell. To give and take.
Ready. Set. Grace.