“I can remember working in a cancer hospital, where a man lost part of his foot only to learn later they needed to remove more. His girlfriend abandoned him, and God put me in an awkward position. I showed up when his medication drip was not working. I do not like hugs, and this man grabbed my hand, hugged it, kissed it, and all I could do was be there for him in spite of my own feelings. Yes, Grace doesn’t just work on the inside, but grace reflects from the inside out, as you say, and I know this very well! Keep stepping forward and stepping out!”
1. Colleen found out some valuable things here. Often all we need in order to be used by God is to get ourselves to where the need is. The Holy Spirit in us is so eager to work that He will take over once we’ve overcome whatever barrier prevented us from stepping out.
2. Caring can be awkward and embarrassing. Someone hugging and kissing your hand could feel a little weird, but it’s genuine appreciation. Giving makes you as vulnerable as receiving.
3. Grace cannot be received in isolation; it is received so that it can be given out.
Pardon another baseball illustration, but it’s a coaching fact that catchers who can throw out runners trying to steal second base do so by learning that receiving the ball from the pitcher and throwing quickly down to second base can happen effectively only when it’s done with one fluid motion that does both receiving and throwing. It’s not a two-step process: receive the ball, and then throw the ball. It’s receiving and throwing all in one. I’ve seen catchers practice this over and over again in spring training, and the best catchers are the ones who have this down to a one-step process.
In fact, in Jesus’ teachings, receiving and giving cannot be separated. It’s one fluid motion. “… and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” The preposition “as” ties these two inextricably together. It’s a one-step process; you can’t have one without the other. Consequently, the reverse is also true: If I can’t forgive someone, that is a clear indication that I haven’t allowed myself to be forgiven. If I can’t love, it’s because I don’t believe I am loved. If I can’t give mercy, it means I haven’t received mercy, or at least I don’t believe it. If I’m wanting people to have to pay for their sins, it’s a clear indication that I think I’m still paying for mine.
Grace turned outward is an incredible joy. It’s a celebration of freedom and abandonment. “I can’t believe I get this; here, you get it too!” “If I’m forgiven, everyone’s forgiven!” “If I’m welcome, everyone’s welcome!” “If God can love me, I can love anybody.”
Thank you, Colleen, for showing us again what the Gospel of Welcome is really like.
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