I have never recovered from realizing as a fourteen-year-old kid that Jesus loved me and wanted me for his own. I had always believed the Bible and the stories in it that I had been taught growing up. And I had affirmed, whenever the question came up, that I believed in Jesus. But in the summer after eighth grade, something happened inside me and I understood grace in a new, far more relevant way. An awareness of his unwavering grace and forgiveness was the grounding dynamic throughout my adolescence that enabled me to navigate that transition in the context of a Christian but complex family system. And the knowledge that Jesus will never leave me, and a constant sense of his presence since that time, have been continually transformational in my life for nearly a half century since I first more deeply understood.
In the Gospels, Jesus calls us to self-denial, total surrender, holiness in thought, word and deed, loving God above all, loving other people as if there were no line between their interests and our own, renouncing all other allegiances that may conflict with being a follower of Jesus, and a lifelong struggle to walk in the narrow way “that leads to life.” But none of these things make any sense, none are even reasonable invitations, if not for the grounding, orienting, sustaining grace of God, experienced in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t begin with a solid foundation of grace, it is impossible to build a genuine house of surrender, commitment, or love.
Where are you coming from today? Are you grounded in the grace and continual presence of Jesus? Or are you trying to build a house without an adequate foundation?