From: The Grace Awakening
Most of you are familiar with the story of Rip Van Winkle, the man in the children’s fairy tale who went to sleep for twenty years and awoke to a very different world from the one he had known before his two-decade slumber. All the while he was asleep, wonderful changes were taking place around him about which he was totally ignorant. Like Rip Van Winkle, many of us are slumbering under the oppressive opiate of those who would keep us from experiencing the marvelous grace-filled life available to those of us who would be made fully alive to its liberating potential. Wake up! Sleep no longer! The grace awakening is upon us. And what can you expect upon rising from your uninformed stupor? Let me close this first chapter by mentioning four practical expectations you can anticipate as you get a firm grasp on grace.
First, you can expect to gain a greater appreciation for God’s gifts to you and others. What gifts? Several come to mind. The free gift of salvation (which we shall consider in depth in the next chapter). The gift of life. The gifts of laughter, of music, of beauty, of friendship, of forgiveness. Those who claim the freedom God offers gain an appreciation for the gifts that come with life.
Second, you can expect to spend less time and energy critical of and concerned about others’ choices. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing relief? When you get a grasp on grace – when you begin to operate in a context of freedom – you become increasingly less petty. You will allow others room to make their own decisions in life, even though you may choose otherwise.
Third, you can expect to become more tolerant and less judgmental. Externals will not mean as much to you by the time you’ve finished the book. You’ll begin to cultivate a desire for authentic faith rather than endure a religion based on superficial performance. You will find yourself so involved in your own pursuit of grace, you’ll no longer lay guilt trips on those with whom you disagree.
Fourth, you can expect to take a giant step toward maturity. As your world expands, thanks to an awakening of your understanding of grace, your maturity will enlarge. Before your very eyes, new vistas will open. It will be so transforming, you will never be the same.
That reminds me of something that happened to me when I was about ten or eleven years old. If you can believe it, I had never seen a football game – I mean an official high school, college, or professional football game played in a stadium. My world was incredibly small because my knowledge of life outside our little home in East Houston was so limited. We did not own a television set as I grew up, which also restricted my awareness. One weekend, while visiting friends in Austin, the father of that family asked all of us kids if we would like to go to a University of Texas football game. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but if it had to do with football, I was interested since I played sandlot ball almost every afternoon.
Was I in for a surprise! As we walked up the ramp at the stadium, my eyes must have been the size of saucers. And when we stepped into the bleachers, I literally could not believe the scene that stretched before me. Warming up down on the field stood Bobby Layne, who later that day went on to lead the Longhorns to a one-sided victory. The immediate outcome was great – winning is always fun – but the ultimate change in my life was enormous. In one brief afternoon my world exploded! I had had a taste of the excitement, the color, the competition of grown-up football, and I would never be the same. I would not have returned even if I could. The exposure resulted in my taking a giant step toward growing up.
Trust me, once you have tasted the grown-up freedom that grace provides, you will never again be satisfied with sandlot living – and I really mean never.