Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. Mark 4:27-28.
I ponder the meaning of grace. Undeserved favor, clemency, mercy, reprieve, pardon. I live a life soaked in grace. Some souls live prideful, unaware of the cost of the mercy that shelters them. Not me. I breathe fresh grace in constant awe since I come from the dank history of repetitive failure. Grace sustains me because I need it so much. I want it to define me.
This morning I curled up with my coffee and read this,
“By our own natural strength and understanding, we human beings cannot take one step on the road to Heaven. We cannot do our own growing. We cannot grow our spiritual lives any more than we can grow our bodies. True, we can eat and drink; but we eat and drink primarily because we are hungry and thirsty, not in order to grow. Growth is a phenomenon that happens behind our backs, when we are not looking. It happens the way seeds sprout in the earth.” Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job.
In spite of my regular prayers to walk in grace, this is a truth that sparkles new to me today. Grace (undeserved favor, clemency, mercy, reprieve, pardon) is the fountainhead of holiness as well as salvation. Yes, I must nourish myself in the rich soil of study, prayer, community, good deeds, confession, healing, meditation. These provide the necessary environment for the hidden work of holiness – and they are fulfilling in their own right. But, after all, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Cor.3:7. If we earnestly desire spiritual maturity, our souls must strain upward for His presence, not inward to our own striving.
“In the life of faith one of the hardest things to do is to refrain from laboring and spinning and instead to see ourselves as being like flowers or grain, growing not by our own efforts but by the grace of God.”
This truth consumes me. There is no holiness without grace, no righteousness without the hard Way of the Cross. I do not earn or deserve my own sanctification any more than I earn or deserve my own salvation. But nothing, nothing is impossible with God. His extravagant and scandalous favor re-invents me. To Him be the eternal glory that shines from this mysterious conspiracy of divine Love.
O, how I love my Jesus.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up…