Stepping on my own “air hose” of grace

In the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, Emerson has a great picture of what it’s like to deny your wife love or your husband respect: like stepping on their air hose.

I was thinking about that in church service one day, and I realized I step on my own air hose of grace all the time.

We all need grace.  We can’t live without it.  Whether you believe in Christ or not, you are still living by grace.  Without grace, we would have no second chances, and the end would be right now.  Without grace, we would be struck dead the first time the consequences for our sin bled into someone else’s life and ruined something special for them (and sin always does that).  Without grace, we’d have no planet to live on.  Without grace, you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t have written it.

We all live on grace, every second of every day.  So why do I somehow think I can “deny” myself “some” grace and impress God with my “sacrifice”?  It’s as though I think grace is money being handed out, and the less I take and poorer I live, the more repentant I’ll look and the more frugal I’ll be.  But is this really the way it works?

Grace is like our air hose.  It isn’t money.  It’s air.

You can find ways to live without money.  You can’t find ways to live without air.

I need grace like I need air.  So anytime I decide the grace “handouts” have become too much–as though God has gone overboard, as though there are levels of grace–and I refuse to take any more grace for a while, it’s like I’m living without air.

What happens when you try to live without air?  You sure aren’t very happy.

Blue-faced and squirming, clutching at my throat, holding my breath for as long as I can is sure to impress God . . right? 

But what if I was living on the moon and I had an oxygen tank, and I kept taking my mask off to show NASA I didn’t need as much air as they’d given me?  Would this really impress anyone–or would it get me from a lunar landing to a lunatic classification?

It isn’t hard to figure out what kind of a witness I am when I’m holding my breath on grace.  Blue-faced squirming Christians don’t draw anyone to Christianity–and why?  Because Christianity is a grace-based faith.

We believe that Jesus, out of total grace, gave His life in exchange for ours.  It’s so simple, a four-year-old can begin to understand it, yet it’s so profound the wisest scholar can’t fully understand it.

I have lived too much of my time as a believer trying to gasp in air in between holding my breath to grace.  When I step on my own air hose of grace, I’ve figured out that God is not impressed and I’m not drawing anyone towards His grace, either.  And I’m not somehow helping Jesus pay for my sin, either.  That’s as stupid as an astronaut saying they’re helping NASA by holding their breath on the moon.  NASA wants their astronauts to breathe on the moon so they can explore the moon and do the work they were assigned to do.

God wants us to breathe His grace so that we can explore His Word and do the work we are assigned to do.  Without understanding grace, the Bible appears cryptic and glorifying God feels as impossible as completing a space mission without an oxygen tank.

Elvina M. Hall is right in her song.  Jesus has paid it all.  We owe Him everything–but not by cutting ourselves off from what He paid for.  That makes less sense than thanking someone for saving your life by trying to kill yourself.

I want to stop stepping on my air hose of grace–and start breathing in the free air of grace all the time, not just when I can’t hold my breath any longer.

And from his [Jesus Christ’s] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16, ESV)

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