When I hear the words “good” and “grace,” they seem a million miles apart in my mind. In the former, I picture supermom with dishes done and sparkling, laundry switched and a perfectly healthy snack offering for her well-dressed kids. In the latter I can easily picture how my kids and husband must think about me, whispering, “she needs a lot of grace,” as I apologize once again for forgetting to switch the laundry or make the beds or make lunches. If this is grace, I live in it. But, what exactly is grace? Is it this simple? And for that matter, what really is “good”?
From Good to Grace reminds me, “a good mother is one who acknowledges her need for the power of God to train and teach and change the hearts of her children...the most important thing I can do each day is not to be good or rely on myself but to trust God and acknowledge my weakness. He will take my meager offering and turn it into a miracle.”
This book has been eye-opening in its assessment of the cyclical patterns of “doing good” and feeling prideful or failing and beating myself up. When I am lacking in some area, I view myself as a failure and when I am succeeding I feel good and begin to suspect I earned it. It’s a rollercoaster with all the ups and downs and we can’t seem to find our way off the thing. She likens it to an open jail cell that we are choosing to stay and chain ourselves up in. There is no freedom in this way of thinking.
Gal. 3:3 reminds us, “are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh?” I never set out to be foolish, so how can I continue living by faith? Christine reminds us that when we receive from Jesus and savor and allow it to well up in us, the response overflows from the inside out. Jesus’ filling up inwardly is what allows us to turn outward and serve and love.
Sometimes I’m too busy to be cognizant of the fact that the gospel has the power to inform everything I do: the reading, the praying and spiritual disciplines, but also the sacrificial washing of dishes, the laundry, the gentle response, the kindness to laugh at another undeniably ridiculous joke told by a 5-year-old. So, what if you and I lived as if the gospel were true every hour of every day? How would that change things? What freedom, what power, what openness and loving each other with abandon would ensue?
Such questions cause us to think and reconsider, so it’s not an easy, fluffy book to read but for that I am grateful and I heartily recommend this book as long as you have time to really digest it. I was pleasantly surprised that there are discussion questions for each chapter in the back as well. This gives great potential for future book studies, which are a favorite of mine. I’ll leave you with a wonderful, summarizing quote from the book:
“Let’s stop giving ourselves and others trite answers in the face of the daily struggles and realities of life. Directing people to have a quiet time, pray more, or go to church more isn’t going to change anything at the heart level. Directing people to God himself for comfort, security, and the ability to face the most difficult circumstances? That is when we invite the Holy Spirit to come alive in our hearts to mend, lead, convict and comfort. Let’s stop fighting against what we all know from experience to be true: we can’t live this Christian life. We need help. Let’s fall into our weakness, not in a giving-up sense or a self-flogging sense, but in recognition that we live only by the power of God.”
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. These are all my words! )
Visit Christine Hoover's blog, Grace Covers Me, for more helpful resources
and for more information on her new book.