Assembly Line Faith
I'm a work-in-process, and I believe in the power of Grace
"Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do" -- Gian Carlo Menotti
I caught a glimpse of the "Hell" that Menotti wrote about exactly 17,860 days into my othwerwise blessed life. The backstory of that day is probably worth highlighting. It happened on the evening of December 26, 2010. I was sprawled out in a hospital room in Austin Texas, in the arms of my loving Carol, having just been diagnosed with a chronic, particularly ugly neurological condition. In the true spirit of the Chinese proverb that says "good things come in pairs", the physician concurrently informed me that a scan of my brain displayed a walnut-sized brain tumor secured snugly to the left side of my gray matter. Foregoing the medical prognosis and details that followed, brain surgery was ultimately performed, rehabilitation completed, health improved, my perspective became bright and my outlook optimistic.
Interestingly on that day, I also caught a glimpse of what Grace really means. Grace in the hands of skilled surgeons. Grace in the love of family and friends. Grace in the place I called home. Grace in the extraordinary natural beauty and order of things. And most importantly, Grace displayed by God. Yep, God.
All this to say that after that series of unfortunate events, I could now see clearly the blessings which were previously camouflaged in my life. While I had always categorized myself as a "Believer", I also believed that God had sort of been dormant in my life up until that point. He would visit me on occasion when I needed Him, only to retreat during the day-to-day grind of my duties as a husband, father, and hopeless workaholic tendencies, focused solely on my priorities.
I love to think of myself as situated somewhere between the raw materials and finished goods in the Kingdom Factory, always being led by God toward the end of the assembly line...
Reflecting over the next few months, it became obvious to me that God had not been dormant after all, but instead had been working behind the scenes all along. I had been His work-in-process, without realizing it, and I finally had the clarity I needed to recognize it. I love this particular metaphor for how God works. In the manufacturing world, work-in-process are goods in production that have not yet been completed. These goods are situated between raw materials and finished goods. I love to think of myself as situated somewhere between the raw materials and finished goods in the Kingdom Factory, always being led by God toward the end of the assembly line, where someday I'll be completed in a way that is pleasing to Him.
I am, by nature, a long-suffering empiricist, meaning it is my nature to believe in only the things I can validate through personal observation. I probably received this trait from my dear father, who as a chemist, relied exclusively on empirical evidence to form his professional opinions. So, as I began to really observe and analyze the blessings in my life, and the Grace by which it was freely given, I could come to no other conclusion but that the Holy Spirit was involved. Intimately involved.
Francis Chan, an American preacher and an incredible Christian author, says that "when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural". The evidence in my life over the last seven years is compelling. I now possess a keen eye in recognizing Grace everywhere, not just in things like natural beauty, or in witnessing awesome displays of God-given talent, but in the most unlikely of places: in the precious eyes of the impoverished, in the resilient faces of the vulnerable, and in the unwavering spirits of the homeless. Yes, there is an absolute Grace that can be found in even the most heart-wrenching places, and that Grace is what powers my soul now.
... in the precious eyes of the impoverished, in the resilient faces of the vulnerable, and in the unwavering spirits of the homeless...
I'm a work-in-process, and I believe in the power of Grace. My prayer is that we are all open to recognizing the Grace that is available to us through the Holy Spirit, and watch with a keen eye as the evidence reveals itself. My hope is that we all progress through His assembly line, where someday we will all be finished products.
Let's Embrace The Grace, together.
It's All Good.