On Means of Grace- Noval

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Tortola

Lord, You are good to  me!  You surround me with Your faithful love.  Thank You for the promise of spring, for the trees in bud, for the return of many species of birds, for the music of the spring nights.

I had a rather disturbing dream last night.  I had fallen into some sort of canal or lagoon.  While I didn’t see them, I had the awareness that there were crocs or gators somewhere nearby.  The water was greenish and somewhat murky, but I could see various ropes hanging down into the water.  I kept trying to use them to pull myself up and out, but about the time I got to the surface either the rope would break or I’d lose my grip and back down I’d go.  I think I know what some of this means, but I’d like Your input and confirmation, Father. 

So what’s your take on the dream? 

Well, I think my struggle to get to the surface represents my struggle for sanctification, holiness, Christian maturity, fruit bearing, etc.  I think the ropes represent various means of grace, spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, fellowship, worship, service, Bible study, communion. 

Those are good things, right?  So why did they ultimately prove insufficient (in your dream) to get you to where you wanted to be- up and out of the water, out of danger? 

I think it’s because these good things, all of these means of grace AREN’T adequate to secure the blessings of sanctification and holiness and fruitfulness.  They’re means of grace, not means of SALVATION.  Rightly used, they connect me to You.  You are the Bread of Life.  All true growth, life, health and fruitfulness come from You.  The means are just conduits, ways of building intimacy with You. 

You’re on the right track!  We’re back to John 15 again, right?  Abide in Me, and let My words abide in you, and you’ll bear much fruit. 

It’s interesting that I’ve been sharing online with some Christian brothers about these various means and methods of pursuing holiness, and I’ve titled my posts “What Works”.  But I see now that there’s a subtle way in which that’s misleading.  Apart from Your sustaining and empowering grace, I can study, meditate, serve, fast and pray until the cows come home and nothing much will really happen! 

So what’s the main point of the dream? 

That I’m totally, desperately dependent on You for everything.  Like the old hymn says, “I need Thee, Oh I need Thee!  Every hour I need Thee!”  

That’s the point.  So, now, how does that change your view of the spiritual disciplines-the means of grace?  Do they somehow become less useful or valuable in your eyes? 

No Sir, not at all;  in fact, I see them perhaps as more valuable.  But there IS a shift in my thinking about their purpose.   Their purpose is NOT to produce fruit, growth, love, maturity or wisdom in my life.  Their purpose is to get me into Your presence.  Because life is in YOU.  Being joined  to You, in You, identification with You: that’s the purpose; that’s the goal. Everything else flows out of that. 

So, how does that shift your view of the Bible? 

Less “manufacturer’s handbook”, more love letter. 

Prayer? 

Less business meeting, more intimate fellowship. 

Worship? 

Less duty; more joy, privilege and opportunity. 

Good.  Pay attention to your dreams-even the odd ones.  I have something to say more often than you might imagine.

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