April 30, 2014
There is much that we could learn from the community known as Alcoholics Anonymous. I remember years ago when I was touring with my band, and I had a conversation with another Christian artist who had just been released from a drug and alcohol treatment center. “I grew up in the church,” he said. “I’ve gone all my life and felt like a stranger. When I stood up in that first AA meeting and said, ‘Hi by name is Bill and I’m an alcoholic,’ I felt as if I had finally found a place to belong. No one looked at me as if to say, ‘Well, how shocking!’ it was as if at the bottom of the barrel of my life, I found a place to be real and honest and accepted. I finally found grace.” Bill Wilson, the cofounder of AA, reached and unshakable conviction, now expressed in twelve-step programs around the world, that an alcoholic must reach bottom before he can climb back up. He said, “How privileged we are to understand so well the divine paradox that strength rises from weakness, that humiliation goes before resurrection, that pain is not only the price but the very touchstone of spiritual health.” Surely that is true for everyone who loves God. In my life it was only when I was at my weakest, my most broken, that I was able with empty hands to reach out and receive God’s grace. When God has extended this kind of unmerited favor to you, it will forever change how you respond to others who stand in that same need. Will you dress in grace? Don’t you long for the freedom to stand up and say, “Hi, my name is ___________, and I’m a sinner”? Is it hard for you to accept this gift that makes no sense in human terms? Would it be easier if there were something that you could do to feel as if you are pulling your weight? As you sit with all that’s true about your life and circumstances at this moment, will you let Jesus dress you in His grace? In the movie Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts, there is a scene where Richard Gere buys her a beautiful dress before he takes her out to dinner. My girlfriends thought it was so wonderful, but it made me cringe. It poked and prodded insecurities from my past. If I see myself in that kind of moment, here is what it looks like to me. I pull the dress out of the box. It’s exquisite. The fabric is soft and it shimmers in the candlelight. But even as I hold it up, I know that it won’t fit me. It will be too tight in the chest, or it won’t be smooth over my hips. I go into the bathroom to try it on and remember I haven’t shaved my legs. I sit on the toilet seat and cry. Shame is what I would be dressed in without Christ. God’s grace comes to us as a beautiful gift. If you hold it up, you will see that it’s a perfect fit. Not only that, but as you slip it on, it covers a multitude of sins. From The Heartache No One Sees ©2004 by Sheila Walsh (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) Used by permission.