Falling Out of Grace

I am a Christian cannibal. I eat my young in the name of “righteousness”. In other words, I snap at my children and bite their head off because, of course, I’m right and they’re wrong.

I’m not the first mother to do this. Other parents have been munching on their offspring’s necks since greeting Noah upon the ark. A fish called the polewig saves only the biggest and juiciest eggs for Daddy’s dinner. The wolf spider carries her babies upon her belly for the convenient mid-morning snack. Even the cuddly polar bear will consume its young if given the chance.

The difference between the polar bear and this Momma? My arctic counterpart does it for survival. I eat my children for lunch to satisfy my sinful nature. Here. Let me show you:

Mommy: Son, where is your timer? (to limit your time with that video game in front of you)

Son: Dad said I could play.

Mommy: That’s not what I asked.

{Sam snubbed my commentary and continued to mimic the responses of the life-sized LEGO Harry Potter on the screen.}

Mommy: Son, pause that game and come here.

Son: What?!

{Yes, go ahead and imagine all the 10-yr-old eye-rolling, controller-tossing, and grievance-muttering you can. They all graced the privilege of this moment.}

Son: Why?!

{Now the quills on my back stood up like the barbed needles of a porcupine. I was poised and ready to defend my stance.}

Mommy: What’s the first thing to come out of your mouth, Son?

Son: Confusion!

{What?! How dare he ignore his own guilt. How dare he defy my righteous position. Who does he think he is?}

Mommy: No it’s not, Son. You have two choices. Are you obeying or arguing?

Son: ar.gu.ing

{Oh, don’t go thinking this word escaped his lips with deference. No. His retort dripped with the intonation of a trained parrot. Strange as it may seem, even this ‘obedience’ failed to satisfy my quest for respect.}

Mommy: Son, you’re being defiant.

Son: No I’m not!

{And now his hands flew into their own defensive position atop his hips. He might have drawn the battle lines, but his army would receive no recognition from my high standpoint.}

Mommy: When you’re ready to speak to me respectfully, come find me.

See what I mean about cannibalism? {Chomp. Chomp}

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I received an assignment this week at Sunday School: “Teach someone else about the practical implications of justification by faith.” In other words, teach someone else about how God sees you as He sees Christ – perfectly, sinlessly justified before His judgement throne. Innocent beneath His gavel thump. Declared righteous and free. Teach someone else about Grace.

How was this cannibalistic Momma genuinely going to teach someone else what it means to be a Christian, a little Christ, a redeemer, rescuer, and friend when my son is still licking his wounds from yesterday’s assault?

Thankfully, the instructor handed us Galatians 5 as our source document:

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… that’s how freedom (Grace) grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom (true Grace). (italicized additions mine)

And here’s where I recognized the cannibal within:

If you bite and ravage each other, watch out – in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

He already knew I was a cannibal! In fact, He knew before time that I would hunger and thirst for self-righteousness well before I ever hungered and thirsted for His righteousness.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave… (Psalm 5:9).

I viciously devoured my child’s freedom in Christ when I complained about him acting like a child.  I ate up his spirit when I rebuked his demand upon me to be what I am called to be: a parent.  I ate him up for lunch and even spit out his daring, albeit juvenile, attempt to overthrow Mommy’s monarchy.  I am Mommy.  Hear me roar!

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying this precious sinner of mine deserves to live free of house rules and standards of decorum.  I’m just saying the sin arrows flew in both directions.

My cannibalistic tendencies criticized my son’s innocent pleasures and accused him of wrong-doing before any evidence of proof showed otherwise.  I condemned him to video-game hell before even a word fell from my mouth.

I shackled my son to guilt when I ravaged his defenses with sharp words, annihilated his position with indifference, and buried God’s Grace in my own sinful desire to be right (and rightfully recognized as such).

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If I had just remembered my assignment. If I had just remembered the practical implications of justification by faith, of being viewed by God as a Christian, a little Christ, a redeemer, rescuer, and friend, I might have:

  • Remembered that God already sees me as perfectly justified before His throne, and my own son’s disrespectful attitude did not single-handedly award me the, “Word’s Worst Mother”  medal.  My piercing demands that he submit to my authority did that on their own.

I might have:

  • Considered that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, and let loose my grip as the sole influence upon this child’s future.  I might have trusted that God has plans for this beloved too, and His are plans for peace, not disaster.Plans that offer a future filled with hope. (Jer 29:11)

I might have:

  • Recalled that God already declares me forgiven, and remember that I’m not the only one who ever needed forgiveness.  I might have remembered that it takes a lifetime to learn to walk with Him, and that I’m still learning to walk.  How can I honestly expect my son to run without tripping up along the way?

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Oh Lord, please replace my cannibalistic tendencies (to eat up anyone who threatens my self-righteousness) with a hunger and thirst for You – a hunger and thirst for True righteousness.

Might I Pray for Us?

Dearest Lord Jesus, We have fallen far from Grace. Your imputed righteousness. Your free gift. Your declaration of innocence and freedom. While we were yet sinners, you died for us so that we might one day share that Grace. Help up, Lord, to interact grace-fully with the various sinners, like ourselves, in this life. Help us to serve one another in love, for that is how Grace grows. Amen

Notes of Encouragement:

Words of Affirmation:

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. – Albert Camus

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