Grace 101


Sometimes the Christian message seems to be little more than the motivational “speak” of the secular world.  Rah rah, get out there and do great things for God.  Nothing can hold you back.  You can do anything.  There is no “can’t” in Christian vocabulary.

But there is.  A “can’t,” I mean.  The truth, whether I like it or not, is that I can’t make it in this world.  I certainly can’t guarantee my destination after this world.  I can’t be a good enough husband or father.  I can’t preach a convincing enough sermon.  I can’t lead someone to the Lord.  I can’t solve my own problems, let alone someone else’s.

You see, you and I were born failures and we have been failing ever since.  Failure is what is normal for the people of this world.  We can’t measure up to the expectations of others, or even to our own.  That’s why we needed a Savior.

Is it so hard to admit our weakness and need?  Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we didn’t fight against the truth?  I know that no one wants to embrace failure.  This is a competitive world with high expectations.  We won’t succeed if we admit the truth.  So, we lie to ourselves and to others.  Oh, sure, I can do it.  I can be good enough at whatever you need.  I can be strong enough or wise enough.  I can do it.

But saying it doesn’t make it true.  The truth is that we need something more than we have.  We need Someone more.  Those who have read my work know that one of my pet peeves is the idea that Jesus is just like me.  If Jesus is just like me, then how can He help me?  Why would I need someone just like me?  No, I need someone who is more than me.

Now, this is an important part of the grace message.  If you look in the box of gifts that came with your salvation, you will find the strength to accomplish anything.  But there is a catch.  This strength is His strength.  He will do what you need.  The message of grace is that you now have a relationship with One who loves you and is strong enough to accomplish all that you need and all He expects of you.

Do you need to be a good parent?  Then look to Jesus for what you need.  Are you in difficult circumstances?  He is strong enough for you.  He is strong enough to overcome that bad habit, strong enough to change what needs to be changed, strong enough to get you through.  Jesus is the One who is strong.

There is a Bible verse that says that “I can do all things.”  But it contains a qualifier.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  It is His strength and it comes to me through my relationship with Him.

As I write on narcissism, I hear from people in all kinds of very difficult circumstances.  Some of them are heart-breaking.  There is no wisdom, no strength that I can give them.  But Jesus is their strength.  Sometimes decisions have to be made and followed through.  So hard.  Too hard.  But Jesus takes us by the hand and leads us through.  He is strong enough.

Grace is about relationship with the Lord who loves us.  He gives us everything we need.  He gives us strength to accomplish everything He asks of us.  Trust Him.  If Jesus is leading you, follow Him without worrying about whether or not you can do it.  You can’t—He can!


Filed under Grace 101

4 responses to “Strength

  1. Lesley

    Thank you for this word fitly spoken – an answer to a specific prayer today.

  2. Fellow Survivor

    David, your post are a must read. I second Lesley’s response. I was reading John 6: 25 to 40 this morning a very comforting passage all about Grace.

  3. John

    This was another great post. I would add these comments, because I have thought about this topic a lot. Narcissists do not have the same filter that normal people do. For example, I cannot say to someone within a month of meeting them that they are my soul-mate and that I will never leave them , even if I like them a lot. Saying this brings about a responsibility that most thoughtful people (young inexperienced lovers an exception maybe) are aware of and are considerate enough to respect that it may not be something they can promise. Narcissists have no problem saying these things (even if it is the seventh person they have called their soulmate), which tricks us into believing our special brand of love is exactly what this person wants and will always want. When we find out it is not true, we feel violated at the deepest level.

    A second thing narcissists do is constantly criticize everyone in their life. They also criticize those closest to them, but they also will occasionally idolize them even up to the end. This brings about an “us against the world” feeling in their partner, the partner feeling extra special that they are loved despite the narcissist hating just about everyone else. Along these lines narcissists also hide it very well when you have injured them. They may tell you they are mad about something or even rage when it happened, but when they ultimately leave you and give you the reasons, you will be shocked that they have been holding onto things that you were unaware of or that you thought were in the past. This secrecy and deception makes us want to go back and beg the narcissist to reconsider, it was all a misunderstanding.

    Third, narcissists are so arrogant that we feel that we are special just by association. We buy into this arrogance lie and when the narcissist is gone, we have this aching feeling we are being denied a special life with a special person and it is worse when we know someone else has taken our place. This is where it helps to challenge the thought and challenge our addiction. What was actually special about the time with the narcissist – yes, there were good times, but most came with a healthy dose of abuse.

    Finally, narcissists tap into our own narcissism. I have posted before that I think this is the biggest key to recovery. If we buy the fact that the narcissist’s world is so special and that being on their pedestal makes us special, falling off is like the end of the world. We will do anything to go back. Our recovery is in disbelieving we are special, as strange as that sounds. Because in doing this we are challenging the narcissists view and embracing our own humble place in the world, one person of billions. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have uniqueness, it just means life will go on with meaning even if we are not the center of the universe, the lie the narcissist tells themselves and we believed.

  4. Fellow Survivor

    As many of you who have read my post know, I have been through a traumatic experience with an N ex wife that brought me to my knees, literally. The pain was unbearable and she continues with the nonsense even after the divorce. So where do I find myself? Grace. I need more Grace but I don’t have enough. In the same way that God extends his Grace to me, which I definately don’t deserve, I need and want to extend my grace to my ex which she definately doesn’t deserve. So I find myself lacking in being able to extend my grace and therefore forgiveness and acceptance to my ex. But as this post so accurately states, Jesus’s Grace is greater than mine.

    So as the Grace of God flows to me I need to pray that this same Grace flows through me to the ex. I need to look at my ex not as the person that hurt and damaged me, but as a child and creation of God that is loved by God no less than me. Any person that can treat another the way she has treated me needs God’s Grace no less than I do. If I am to be honest with myself, how can I withhold from the ex what God freely offers. But I can’t by myself but i can extend this grace with God’s help. If I am ever to be healed and reclaim myself, I have to get there. Once this Grace is extended in truth from my heart and not just my head, I will be healed.

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