Romans 11: 6 – 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Remember the story about Rip Van Winkle? Rip was a man who didn’t want to work and had a wife who nagged him about it every day. He was loved in the town, especially among the children because he could really tell a good story. He loved the outdoors also and spent most of his time in the woods rather than helping out at home or getting a job. One day, he’s out wandering around when he meets a man carrying a jug of liquor. He hikes around with this guy and drinks his liquor, finally falling asleep under a big tree. He wakes up 20 years later.
I remember hearing this story as a child and wondering how he must have felt when he realized that 20 years had passed him by. His wife was now dead. His children were grown. The town that once loved him no longer knew who he was. What joy he had missed out on.
There are many people in the world today living in a Rip Van Winkle stupor as they try to earn God’s favor in some way. The sad part is that they miss out on so much joy, so much living, as they continue to build their identity as a “Christian” around the work that they DO for God. For the past 50 years or more the Church has promoted this idea that if a person works for the Lord, then they will grow closer to God spiritually.
What we are left with is are spiritually hungry people.
Falling in love with God, accepting the gift that is our birthright (Genesis 1: 26), and receiving the radical gift of grace seems to be so difficult for we humans! I suppose it is difficult because we like to be in control. I suppose it is difficult because if we surrender to the Divine, where will it lead? There is something to be said for the fear of the unknown and there is much mystery when it comes to God. But there is also great groundedness (i.e.,love, comfort, joy, mercy, hope, relationship, peace) found in God. Many however, are so overwhelmed with the mystery that they miss out on the fullness of living in the Lord NOW.
Father Richard Rohr writes, “The divine indwelling is never earned by any behavior whatsoever or any ritual, but only recognized and realized.” – from The Naked Now, page 22. Wake up you Rip Van Winkle’s! There is so much more to this wonderful life and you have already missed out on enough! God WANTS us to experience hope, love, and faith as we live in grace-filled lives of joy and presence NOW.
“To live in such a way is to live inside of an unexplainable hope, because your life will now feel much larger than your own. In fact, it is not your own life, and yet, paradoxically, you are more “you” that ever before.” – Father Richard Rohr, The Naked Now, (New York: Crossroads Publishing, 2009), 24.
Genesis 28: 16 – God, you were here all along, and I never knew it.