"The greatest saints are not
those who need less grace, but those who consume the
most grace, who indeed are most in need of grace --
those who are saturated by grace in every dimension of
Grace to them is like breath."
~ Dallas Willard,
Renovation of the Heart
I'm not the greatest saint, by any
stretch of the imagination.
Certainly not by
the usual definitions -- hours of prayer each day,
a life devoted to merciful acts, wise words for
every setting, and a godly aura.
I try to slip under the wire in the biblical sense that all of us are
saints ("set apart ones" -- see, for example, Romans 1:7; 1
Corinthians 1:2), but deep within, I sense
that the most godly people have conquered their weaknesses, defeated their
demons, and generally live "good
lives." They have an intimacy
with Christ based on their sacrifice and seriousness, something to
which I can only aspire.
Willard's insight challenges my
Just when I thought that saints needed
less grace (surely they have less sin and therefore less
need), Willard suggests that the saints actually consume
the most grace! Their lives are saturated by it in every
dimension of their being.
Herein lies the fallacy of my former
Nobody this side of death can completely
fulfill the Father's original plan. The seeds of sin
continue to germinate within us all our lives. Just when
we feel like we have subjugated greed, a fresh packet of
pride bursts open. And just when humility takes root, so
does bitterness or envy. The saint is not immune to such
fresh plantings, but is the person who breathes in the
grace of Christ consistently and fully.
My own breathing is much more
obstructed. I typically breathe in a cocktail of
self-doubt, frustration, anxiety, and
self-condemnation. I'm so far short of where I
want to be, let alone where the Father
wants me to be. Breathe in grace? I can barely breathe
at all. So, I work hard with depleting reserves,
straining to win the inner-battles and fix the
Every asthmatic knows
the terrifying feeling of constricted airways.
Perhaps, spiritually speaking, you're there. Let's pray that this week
we might breathe His grace more fully and freely; grace
that brings forgiveness, security, hope, and transformation.
Sit, right now, and breathe it in. Perhaps a few of
us will grow a little as saints.
In HOPE --