In HOPE 8.23 

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David Timms  


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"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 their being. Grace to them is like breath."
~ Dallas Willard,
Renovation of the Heart

Breathing Grace

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 assumptions.

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 thinking.

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 personal failings.

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 --



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.