“Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning.”
In other words, we do exert effort when we cooperate with God. When we align our hearts with God, it’s a process but we don’t earn anything. So let me describe this with two analogies.
Analogy #1: Oasis in the DesertThe first analogy I want to use is an oasis in the desert. Okay, so you take your Yeti—because people bring their Yetis to the desert—and you’re walking around, right. It’s arid, it’s dry, and all you see is sand as far as you can see. You are parched, then you become dangerously thirsty. All of a sudden, there on the horizon, you see greenery—it’s an oasis! So you go to this oasis and you find water there. So you’re like, this is perfect. I’m gonna fill up my water here, and I’m going to drink it. Right? Well, spiritually speaking, going to the oasis is going to the means of God’s grace in a dry and weary land. Here’s the good news: God’s grace is predictable.
God’s oases of grace are fixed.
We just have to find where they are and go to them repeatedly.
Analogy #2: Sci-Fi Spiritual DisciplinesHere’s a Sci-Fi version of that. Pretend that God’s grace is an ocean of water expanding in all directions over your head with a glass ceiling, okay? He wants to pour out the water through these fountains of water flowing out of this massive reservoir of water. They pour out in these streams, okay? These are cylinders of his grace. A little psychedelic, right? It’s a little different. Well, if that’s God’s grace, all we have to do is fill up our cup. It’s like, wow, there’s water in here—this is amazing! Then you walk over there, and it’s like, Oh prayer, that’s how I can receive God’s grace. Fasting—now, that’s kind of weird. But wow, it’s a means of grace confession, man, that’s good.
God’s grace is waiting to pour out through specific means.
But here’s what a lot of people do spiritually. They hold their cup close to their chest and ask, Where’s God? when the water is just gushing right there in front of them through these means of his grace. People are like, That’s not my style or I don’t really connect with that. For some people, the only way that they supposedly connect with God is out in the woods by themselves. They’re like, You know, church just isn’t for me. I just feel God when I’m in the woods. I connect with God in the woods, too. There’s a unique connection we have with God like this; it’s called solitude and worship. But if that’s your only like spiritual means of grace, you’re totally missing out. In other words…
God is not elusive.
He’s got specific ways that we can connect with him. To me this is super liberating. We don’t have to wonder, Will that oasis be there? Will this flood of his water in the form of a fountain go away? And here’s the thing, sometimes his grace is more like a drip. At least it feels that way, but it’s still there. And so what I want to say is this: think about your walk with God in terms of first alignment with his heart. In other words, we align our hearts with his as we move toward him and then he changes us. That’s how it works. Here’s the thing. This stuff is never going to change.
God fixed the way the world works through the Logos, his eternal Son.
And it will never change. It will always be through the means of God’s grace—as he ordained before the creation of the world. So we might as well get on board now. Because tell you what, it is a ride, and it is the ride of a lifetime. Craft your plan for spiritual disciplines using my book Your Spiritual Formation Plan. Subscribe to HIM Publications to get weekly blogs like this delivered to your inbox.