Today's featured author is Heidi Chiavaroli.
Clinging To Grace
Call me crazy, but there’s a part of me that loves rules. I’ve always depended on them to create the boundaries that put me on the right side of the track. As a child I rarely found myself in trouble. I knew the rules, and I followed them. My parents and teachers praised me. I praised myself. After all, I was “good.” Not like those other kids who didn’t know when to shut their mouths or do as they were told. Of course I wasn’t perfect—who is? But I was good, certainly better than most.
This attitude lasted through my teens and into my twenties. I served the church with zeal. I married my high school sweetheart. I was sweet. I was nice. I was accommodating.
Then I had children.
Slowly, like the work of a termite gnawing on wood, the outward good I’d so often displayed with little effort began to disappear. My true heart was revealed to me. With two demanding toddlers only sixteen months apart, I began to crumble. I was no longer sweet or nice. And accommodating? Forget it.
I think the parable of the lost son demonstrates my dilemma. I’m convinced the editors who often title that story in our Bibles have it wrong. There’s not just one lost son in the parable, there are two. The elder brother did everything right. He worked hard, obeyed his father, never asked for anything. But the true condition of his heart is revealed at the end of Christ’s story. The older brother is not happy when his little bro comes home. He is angry. Bitter. And at the end of the story, who is in the grand feast—the feast that symbolizes the very joy and fellowship of God’s kingdom? It is the younger son, the rule-breaker. And which son is stubbornly sulking outside? Lost? I can just picture the older son looking through the window at the warm light of this heavenly party, bitterness eating at his insides.
It’s scary how much I see myself in this older son. I am lost. I am dependent on my good works. I am the very person that Jesus scolded the most—a self-righteous Pharisee.
I wonder if I ever would have seen the truth if it weren’t for my children. God showed me my heart, He showed me my hypocrisy. He showed me death.
And then, my Savior showed me glorious life. I am a lost prodigal. Lucky for me, God is in the business of saving that which is lost.
I threw off my cloak of bitterness and ran into the feast. I gave Jesus my heart and He gave me grace. Living this way is pure, wonderful freedom. Surrendering to God is freedom. I don’t have to depend on rules to define my goodness or my worth. All I have to do is depend on Jesus, on His worth.
And so I cling—lovingly, recklessly, doggedly—to grace. To Christ’s righteousness, and not my own. I’m forgetting the rules and what it means to be “good.”
Call me crazy, but a bigger part of me loves grace.
Heidi Chiavaroli writes history woven in grace. Her current manuscript, Tears of the Outcast, finaled in My Book Therapy’s Frasier Contest, semi-finaled in ACFW’s 2012 Genesis contest, and won the 2011 Historical Category of Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest. Heidi lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. You can find her blog at here.