One thing I have learned about grace is that I can't make it happen. In fact, trying to make it happen reminds me a bit of the experience of trying to make myself go to sleep. Doesn't work. The harder I try, the more awake I am. It is only when I let go of the controls and allow myself to drift off that sleep envelopes me.
With grace, my inability to make it happen is about more than just the reality that I cannot control God. If I stop and remember that grace is a gift, an unmerited gift, I can understand it a bit better.
Even when the desired outcome occurs, the act of trying to force a gift renders it no longer a gift. If a wife says to her husband, "Buy me some flowers or I will divorce you", when the flowers are received, they do not feel like a gift. The husband doesn't feel like he has given of his love and the wife doesn't feel like she has received it.
Yet sometimes when we don't understand the ways of God, we may feel like the demanding spouse. "Give me a gift, God! Prove to me that you exist and that you love me." It is not surprising that we do not experience grace so easily when we give this sort of ultimatum. It is not because God is unwilling to give, but because we have stepped out of the way of love.
(Excuse me for a moment. I'll be back shortly.)
I've been gone about an hour. I have felt quite tired tonight and a bit like the demanding spouse - "Give me something to write about, God!" So I decided to paint instead. But I didn't want to be demanding with my palette either but rather to enter into loving relationship with Him. So I paused a moment to allow my heart to be open to whatever He gave. I committed myself to post here whatever came forth, realizing that I could well end up with something quite ordinary - or even something that I didn't like at all.
Oddly, He gave me flowers. :-)
I do not consider this any great work of art. Quite the contrary.
However, I share with you what I have done as an invitation to step into the way of Love with whatever longings you experience. Allow yourself to open your hands and heart so that they may be filled with His grace, in whatever form it takes. Then, take a moment and give thanks.
And now, I give thanks and prepare to drift off to sleep...
(Comments and contributions during this Week of Grace are welcome and may be e-mailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)