#Mercy & Grace · Amy Grant · Bible Study · Church of England · Felixstowe · Growing in God · Lent · poem · Prayer

Mercy & Grace – Day 32

broken chaliceMercy & Grace – 40 Days with the Music of Amy Grant

Day 32 – Thursday after 5th Sunday of Lent

These Reflections which take the music of Amy Grant as their theme, were originally published in Lent 2015.  They are being republished during the Covid19 pandemic which is affecting the whole world

 

To Read:

From the Scriptures:

…to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.   (2 Corinthians 12.6-10)

From Amy Grant:                            “Don’t Try So Hard”
(with James Taylor)

Another Monday comes and I just wanna breathe
‘Cause it’s a long, long week for someone wired to please
I keep taking my aim, pushing it higher
Wanna shine bright, even brighter now
Wish I could tell myself

Don’t try so hard
God gives you grace and you can’t earn it
Don’t think that you’re not worth it
because you are.
He gave you His love and He’s not leaving
gave you His Son so you’d believe it
You’re lovely even with your scars.
Don’t try so hard

Do you remember how the summers felt when we were kids?
Oh, we didn’t think much about it, we just lived.
Taking our time, beautiful leisure,
when did we start, trying to measure up
when all of this time, Love has been trying to tell us…

Don’t try so hard…

Don’t try so hard
God gives you grace
You can’t earn it
Stop thinking you’re not worth it
because you are.
He gave you His love and He’s not leaving
Gave you His Son so you’d believe it
You’re lovely even with your scars
Lovely the way you are
So open up your lovely heart
Don’t try so hard

 

To Listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfGvXfe9LK8

To Reflect:

You would have thought I may have learnt that, besides having an excellent sense of timing, God also has a gentle sense of humour?  Today, in the middle of three very busy weeks with a fourth on the horizon, the wheels finally came off.  Having driven almost to the other side of the County to a church service, struggling all the way with a head cold and a streaming nose that was desperate for medicine and some bed rest, I saw some sense at last.  I gave up, turned for home and headed for a much needed afternoon watching the Blanket Show.  Feeling slightly less groggy, I come now to the next song in our journey towards Easter with Amy and find the achingly beautiful ‘Don’t Try So Hard’.  Someone upstairs knows me very well indeed 

I don’t complain about being ‘someone wired to please’.   I discovered a long time ago that being busy gives me even more energy and a larger hunger for life – much to the dismay of my churchwardens and the members of our Parochial Church Council!  However, as the words of the song remind us, those of us who are busy rushing about doing good works must remember to remain steeped in God’s grace.

It is so very easy to try just a little bit too hard, as if somehow we can make God love us more by being busy.  God has decided that we are ‘worth it’ so, those who always want to ‘aim higher’ for Him must also find ways of relaxing in the service we offer to Him and His people.

I am immensely privileged to have a deep sense of call to the service of others, and most days it makes my heart sing with joy!  Occasionally, often when I have put works before grace, I can feel just a little bit hag-ridden by my call to serve.  This is not uncommon amongst church ministers.  Some of those I journey together with label it  ‘vocation guilt’, as our own sense of unworthiness compels us to spend – and on really bad days overspend – ourselves in His service.  I guess in all of our training at Seminary we have not yet learnt the words of the First Collect at Morning Prayer!

The Collect for Peace

O God, the author of peace
and lover of concord,
to know you is eternal life,
to serve you is perfect freedom.
Defend us your servants
from all assaults of our enemies;
that we may trust in your defence,
and not fear the power of any adversaries;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen. 

There is a deep freedom in His service which means we should never, ever, be ‘trying too hard’.

Perhaps we do this to cover up the things we have done of which we are not proud?  Maybe we see ourselves as people scarred by sin – our own or others – and so find ourselves to be ugly?  What if our ‘trying too hard’ is some kind of attempt to persuade God to look at our ‘good works’ instead of looking us in the face?

You’re lovely even with your scars
Lovely the way you are
So open up your lovely heart
Don’t try so hard…

jackie pullinger soft heart hard feet

The most beautiful person in all of creation has scars: scars in His hands, scars in His feet, scars in His side.  These scars are the ones that heal our wounds and remind us that we are beautiful and loved perfectly regardless of where we have been or what we have done.  Jackie Pullinger in her book ‘Chasing the Dragon’ speaks of how recovering drug addicts she met in Hong Kong would bare their arms when lifting them in worship so that they could offer their wounds, the track marks left by the Heroin needle, to the Wounded One by whose stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53.5).

All we need do is ‘open up our lovely hearts’, be cherished by a far greater love than our own, and realise that He is never going to leave us.  Don’t try so hard.

 

To Do:

I do not know many people who do not carry within them some ‘wound’ – either of their own making or inflicted by another.  If you can, and only if this is the right time for you to so do, spend some time talking to The One Who Loves us Best about your wound and allow Him to wrap your wounds within His own…

 

To Pray:

There is a struggle between my regrets at my evil past and my memories of good joys, and I do not know which side has secured the victory.  Alas, Lord, have mercy upon me, wretch that I am.  See I do not hide my wounds.  You are the physician, I am the patient.  You are merciful, and I need your mercy.

Augustine of Hippo in Pilgrim

 

 

Acknowledgements:

All of the music on the video clips from YouTube is © Amy Grant.  If you enjoy listening to her songs please consider buying her recordings.  A full discography and other information about Amy can be found on her website http://www.amygrant.com

Scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America

Prayers from Pilgrim are copyright © 2015 Stephen Cottrell, Steven Croft, Robert Atwell and Paula Gooder.

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