(Photo: the sweet days of summer)

Sweet Days of Grace

It's a gorgeous late summer day.

Looking out my window, I am wondering what I am doing in here!

(Okay, I took the picture in late October last year - but it is the kind of day full of hints of what is to come!)

Anyway, I realize it has been quite a while since I have put anything new here on these pages. So much for my promise to do something new every day! Okay, I lied. Well, I didn’t mean to lie. It just sort of turned out that way. Life seems to have this way of not going along with my plans.

I got roped into teaching Sunday school this year (7th grade Confirmation), and actually, I am glad for the opportunity, though I am probably a terrible teacher, judging by the blank faces staring back at me our first class. I had the kids do a little survey I wrote up so I could get to know them a little better. Mostly I asked goofy questions like, What would you do with a million dollars? or What’s for dinner? or What’s under your bed? Of course, I thought of all kinds of good questions I wished I had asked after the class was over.

But if I were to ask myself a good survey question it would be, Name one thing you are really trying to change about yourself. The answer for me right now would be...

Do what I say am going to do!

Man, I’m terrible at that.

I am a classical example of the person who says he is going to do something (because it sounds real good at the time) - but come time to actually DO IT, all the enthusiasm for it vanishes in a puff of smoke. Something ELSE always sounds so much more appealing. A good nap, say.

Simply put, when it comes time to actually DO IT, I don’t feel like it.

So I am really working at doing it anyway. My “To Do” list now is entitled...

Do what you say you are going to do!

I cringe at the thought of this scene...

I am in heaven, and God has called me into his office. On his desk he has the list HE has been keeping of all the things I said I was going to do. It spills off the desk in fold after fold.

“Have a seat,” God says to me cordially.

“I was just looking over this list of all the things you said you were going to do, and I have a few questions.

“On September 20th, 1963 you told your Mom you were going to pick up your room... “

“And did you do it?” God asks, peering up from his list.

“Um. No. I doubt it.”

“And let's see,” God flips through a bunch of pages, “on January 2nd, 1975, you said you were going to....“ and he names something I said I was going to do that until this moment I had completely forgotten. “Oh yeah,” I think.

“And did you do it?”

I shift uncomfortably. “No.” I can tell this is going to be a LONG visit.

They say the road to hell is paved in good intentions. In my case it would seem to be paved with a very long, rolling ream of paper. Miles and miles long.

Thank God for his grace and mercy!!!!

So I figure the best thing to do to avoid that unpleasant scene is to actually WRITE all these promises down. That way there they will be, unavoidably in black and white.

What I should do is have “Do what you say you are going to do!” tattooed on my forehead. I should make framed copies of that promise and hang one on every wall in the house.

If I said I was going to do something, then do it.

It’s that simple.

Yeah right!

Doing what I say I am going to do is just going to go on the list of all the other things I said I was going to do - and never do!

Those of you who know your Bible well will realize that all of this sounds suspiciously like what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (chapter 7, round abouts verse 14 and on... my paraphrase!)...

“I don’t get myself! The things I want to do, I don’t do. The things I don’t really want to do, I do!

I want to do what pleases God, but I can’t do it! I don’t do the good I want to do, instead I do exactly the thing I DON’T want to do!”

Yikes. That’s me!

And then Paul asks, “Who can save me from this mess!”

For the longest time I could never figure out Paul’s solution to his dilemma. He says, “Thanks be to God, who saves me through Jesus Christ!” which, of course, is great. I knew that. Jesus has saved me from my sins. But I am still stuck with my problem! I still wake up every morning determined to please God because I know that is where I will really find the joy that I am looking for - and then I go and do something else instead!

Now I think maybe I get it.

Maybe what Paul is saying is that there is something inside all of us that fights against our desire to do what pleases God. As much as we want to, we don’t always. Or can’t.

There is this part of us that wants to please God - and this part of us that wants to please... well, US. And as long as we are alive on this earth there will always be that struggle between the two.

I wanted to hear some secret little trick to make the struggle go away. I want to wake up tomorrow morning and be this perfect person who always pleases God, who never has to wrestle with that other part of myself to do that. I want that other part of myself to go away!

But it’s not going to.

That struggle is a part of life.... and maybe, as goofy as this is sounding to me right now, maybe it’s even a good thing! Maybe the struggle is exactly the process God is using to make me into the person he wants me to be.

I try and I try to please God, but I make a mess of things instead. Maybe Paul is trying to tell me that it's okay!

Paul is saying, “Keep trying. Don’t give up!” But when I DO make a mess of things God has already taken care of it. God has made a way to make things right again. God has already forgiven me for all the times I have or will mess up, he's already forgiven me for all the times I disappoint him. It’s okay. Let it go!

Instead of being overwhelmed and crippled by guilt (which I am really good at!), let it go - and be filled with thanks and praise instead, knowing that when Jesus died on the cross he truly made everything right again. It’s all been taken care of. Jesus has paid the price to restore all the things I have broken or will break along my way. I really AM saved!

That's what this wonderful Christianity thing is all about!


When I woke up this morning I had no intention of writing any of that! Instead I was feeling sort of groggy and unmotivated, and I was looking for some inspiration when I came upon this Psalm. It seemed to help...

Psalm 90 click here

2004 Paul Dallgas-Frey

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