Many Times Over

2 Peter 1-2 (the message)
I, Simon Peter, am a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. I write this to you whose experience with God is as life-changing as ours, all due to our God’s straight dealing and the intervention of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.

Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.

Love this. Love it.

It’s a cloudy morning in my little part of the world. Matter of fact Chris Qualila of Jesus Culture is singing Let It Rain as I sit at the ol’ kitchen table. I think it might! As I open up to 2 Peter this morning I am caught up in the introduction. My heart hears something in Peter’s opening remarks. I don’t really know if it’s exactly what was meant, but let me share how I soak in God’s Word this morning. Smile.

When I read grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God, I see real life. I see real relationship and the very real and sometimes messy journey of knowing Him and being transformed by the knowing.

I don’t see religion. I don’t see a profession we made in childhood and left there, as well. I don’t see a grave misunderstanding of who Jesus is and how He sees us…that we must be perfect and keep fresh check-marks in the boxes of our tradition and religion or else.

Nor do I see outward expressions and confessions of belief that do not work their way into our everyday lives. I don’t picture the automatic pilot of church-world vets who always have enough faith for every need and know how to rebuke every devil with a fierce and loud prayer language.

Whoa. Yikes. But there it is.

When I read Peter’s words I think of how knowing Jesus, discovering Creator in truly life-changing ways, is a lifetime journey. God’s Spirit and all that He promised comes to live in us when we confess our sin and ask Him into our lives, but growing into who God means for us to be…tasting the truest joy only to be known in surrender…deepens as we live. I believe God gives us grace and peace many times over for the journey.

We are completely missing out on the best parts of knowing Him if our conversion experience, church attendance and blessing over mealtime constitutes our experience with God. If we stay the same, if our experiences do not deepen along the way, we have perhaps missed the point. Hell avoidance is not the only point. Living loved by God in life-altering ways…imagining and anticipating the day we lay our eyes on Jesus kind of living…is also the point.

For me, overcoming the lie that when I failed to measure up to God’s (as well as man’s) standard I was no longer worthy to experience Him was a game-changer. I was so full of to-do’s and how-to’s I couldn’t half see straight. I was so burdened with my performance and failure to meet the standard that I was stuck.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest someone reading this post identifies. You feel stuck. You want to know Jesus more, you want to live in peace and with joy, but cannot see how to get there from where you are now. It’s a much shorter distance than you might think, my friend.

Let His grace be enough. As many times as it takes.

I would still be stuck if not for a very organic and intimate experience with Jesus. With Jesus. Not any of the great Pastors I’ve esteemed in my life. Not my wonderful, Godly mother. Not any of my friends. None of the people I had on pedestals (and they were on pedestals) could untie my knots and lift my burden. Not one of them could give me the desire to abide, abide, in His presence.

I appreciate the Pastors of my life. I appreciate a Godly mother and am super-thankful for Godly friends. I’m thankful for the wisdom and influence they’ve had over me and rightly so!

But they are not Jesus. And I need my experience, this deepening revelation, to be with Jesus. What He knows about my future. Who He says I am. How His Spirit wants to lead and guide me into truth in every detail of my life through His Word and personal revelation.

I would still be attempting to have someone else’s relationship with Jesus if not for grace and peace.

Many times over.

See, grace began to ooze into the cracks in my heart that resulted from the heavy weight of striving and never being enough. Oh but I had to grow so weary first. So weary and dissatisfied with living the do’s but not having the intimacy. I had to admit it! Once I looked truth in the eye…I would never earn it or perform flawlessly…I found freedom. True freedom. Folks tethered to religion and tradition squirm over this kind of statement. Might get a bit peeved, even. But the Bible says it is for freedom Jesus set us free.

My freedom is not for a life of degradation. Smile. It’s freedom to know Him, to experience Jesus in my life in deepening ways, in spite of myself.

It is only, only, in experiencing Jesus that my “self” ever transforms, changes, grows and hungers for more. But if I can’t get past myself, my junk, how can this happen? Let’s not give up because we mess up! And Heaven-help me if I’m satisfied and even proud of my religious pedigree! Cause then my experience is one of atta-girls, pats on the back and a lofty but misguided sense of myself.

You want to find Him? Experience Him? Read a bit about Him. You’ll find Jesus in the red-light district of His day. Maybe the very places we would never set foot in (being a good Christian and all). He’s having supper with the “rif-raff.” Those people we have “nothing in common with.” He’s pouring out His grace and peace on the adulteress. On the whore. On the hurting. On the thieving tax-collector. On the crusty fisherman who wrote the verses above.

Grace and peace many times over for very real people caught up in very real life.

I’ve never read one account of Jesus rejecting a person hungry for grace and peace. But boy did He reprimand those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see their need for grace and peace. Even as he hung beaten and bloodied on a cross He poured out grace and peace to the wretched sinner hanging beside Him.

Grace is the game-changer. It’s the glue…the bridge…the stuff of Jesus. Grace is what turns our dry and dusty, weekly religious experience into something that consumes, overflows and deepens across a lifetime. And experiencing Jesus, Bible Jesus, brings amazing peace. Peace that ruins us. Nothing else will ever do.

God is for me. God is for you. He’s inviting us into something that shifts and moves and deepens. Rich and raw and wrapped in grace.

Many times over.

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