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January 27, 2011

How grace allows us to step off the treadmill of a busy life

by Dave Malnes

“I discovered that the compulsive pace of my life mirrored the true beliefs of my heart.  Whatever I said I knew about God, what I really believed was that my effort could wrest from Him a love and acceptance based on my performance.  I could not receive grace–the marvelous, utterly surprising grace of God–until I stepped off the treadmill and waited with empty, needy hands.  I could not hear His voice until I could separate Him from the nagging critic I carried inside me.”  (Paula Rhinehart)

We live in a world of distractions.  With so much to do at our fingertips, we never quite feel that we are doing enough.  Grasping at all the opportunities before us, we find ourselves living life at a break-neck speed with little room for anything else – except immersing ourselves in activities that distract us from the over-bearing guilt that tells me I’m not good enough.

Those new year resolutions of becoming fit are starting to wane.  We step off one treadmill at the local gym and get back on the familiar old one called busyness.  How do we get off?  What can I do to break off from old habits?

It seems that the answer both begins and ends with grace.  We readily accept this free and undeserving gift from God, but do we actually claim ownership to it?  Do we accept this gift and place it upon our mantle and give credit to God for this trophy, and hope someday that we are worthy enough to receive it?  Or do we allow grace to be a part of our everyday life?  “It is grace we are saved, not by works,” proclaims the Apostle Paul.  Why?  “So that no man can boast.”

Think about it.  If we gave a beautiful hand-made sweater to a loved one, we would want them to use it.  Not stuff it away in the closet to gather dust, nor display proudly never to be worn.  God wants us to use this precious gift of grace, to get it dirty, to perhaps wear a few holes in it, to make it our own.  Grace is given to us, not because we are worthy, but because we are his children that he dearly loves.  And doesn’t that change our perspective?  We are God’s children.  We are already accepted, loved and approved of by God.  So, with that in mind, we can freely receive God’s grace without any pangs of guilt.

With this assurance, we can now tackle the temptations of not stepping on the treadmill of life — because our motivation is different.  We love because God first loved us.  We carry out our daily life, because God has given us a new life.  And this new life will have the desire to regularly hear and listen to God’s voice found in His Word, and not be burdened by distractions or that inner voice that tries to suggest something different.

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