Thursday, September 20, 2012

Grace and Grasping

. . . she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).

Your life is a gift, everything about it. Ponder that for a moment. Ponder it and ask yourself whether you believe it.

That’s not the same as asking whether you can affirm it. Sometimes we affirm things without really believing them. We may say that life is a gift but we don’t actually live as if this is true. We are prone to ignore all that we have received while we obsess over what we resent and regret. Our stress, our edginess, our fatigue tell the world that life is more grind than gift.

The story of what happened in the Garden of Eden may explain why we live this way. Yesterday we observed that the tempter’s first strategy in stoking human pride is to diminish God. In the midst of this something else is happening. In a very subtle way the tempter shifts the focus of life away from all that has been given to the one thing that has been withheld: The one tree of which God has said, “No.” Grace slips into the distant background. The goodness of the giver is called into question.

When life is no longer gift and when there is no good giver, there is only one way left to live: We define the good life based on our desires. We spend our energy scraping and clutching at what we want.

The verb “took” in Genesis 3:6 is very significant. Until now all has been given. The breath of life was given. The abundance of the garden was given. The work of tending the garden and naming the animals was given. All was gift – until the serpent appears in Genesis 3. Drawn to the tree by the serpent’s promise, the woman “took.”

This act of taking changed everything. Grasping, not grace, became our way life.

One of the most practical ways you can wage war on pride in your life is by identifying the ways in which life comes to you as a gift. If we can recover our capacity to see life as gift, we will cultivate thankfulness. Gratitude is the only fitting response to a gift. And gratitude has a way of tempering our pride. If truly proud people have a hard time being thankful, maybe truly thankful people will have a hard time being proud.

Your life is a gift, everything about it. Do you believe this?

If not, begin paying attention to the grace that surrounds you today. Wage war on pride by naming the gifts that God has placed in your life. Receive them all with gratitude. More grace, less grasping.

With each new day, O God, your gifts come to us afresh. Too often our sight is clouded by pain or we miss your gifts because of our frenetic way living. Grant that we might live this day with open hands, ready to see and receive what you give, ever thankful and humble before you. We ask this in the name of your son Jesus, the greatest gift of all. Amen.

No comments: