‘Obstacles’ is the next to the last talk on the Kairos Weekend Program in the prisons. “We’ve been talking all weekend about God’s plan for our lives. Let me tell you what His plan is for us; to surrender ourselves to Him. To do whatever He wants us to on a minute by minute basis. To accept the gift of His grace and share it with others. Pretty simple; but it’s not easy.
What is Grace? It is unmerited favor. That means God being nice to us when we didn’t deserve it. Grace is a lot like mercy, Mercy is God being nice to us when we deserved to be punished.
As we’ve said before, God’s grace is a gift that we accept by faith. We get it when we trust God to take care of us, because we finally figured out we can’t take care of ourselves. That brings us to the subject of this talk: Obstacles to Accepting God’s Grace. What gets in the way of us accepting God’s grace? Mostly it’s us. But it’s easier to think about it if we break it down. There’s three main categories: People, Places and Things.
The first and biggest obstacle to you and me enjoying all the benefits of God’s Grace is you (and me). In order for us to get grace we have to surrender ourselves to God and accept His grace as a free gift. And that’s hard to do. Everybody has heard the line, “There ain’t no free lunch.” “Nothing in life is free.” “If you want to get anything out of life you have to work for it.”
You might have even heard that line “God helps them who help themselves.” Well, let me tell you something. God is not like that. The way God is, now and forever, is this: “God helps those who get out of the way and let Him help them.”
‘Course it’s hard to accept that God wants to give us a whole bunch of free gifts just because He loves us and He wants to have a relationship with us. For most of us, that is NOT the way our lives have been turning out, ever since we can remember. All God wants is for us to trust Him and obey. And there’s a lot of people out there who don’t want to give up control of their lives to God. They’re afraid of what they might have to give up in order to truly live with God in charge.
So you get to choose. You can choose to let God take care of you; or you can choose to keep on trying to take care of yourself. As for me, I know how well that was working. But know this: God is not going to twist your arm. If you follow Him, it’ll be because you choose Him of your own free will. And if you’re not ready, He can wait. Since before you were born, He’s been standing there with His hand out, waiting for you to come and take His hand.
But if you’re gonna come, do it whole hog, no holding back. That’s the only way it’ll really work. If you give Him all of you, you’ll get all He has to offer. All of Him. It’s like the story of the farmer, back in the middle ages, walking down the road with a sack of corn over his shoulder, when the king rides up in his fancy carriage. The carriage stops right next to the farmer, the door swings open, the king leans out and says to the farmer, “What do you have in your bag?”; and the farmer says, “Corn, your Majesty.” The king says, “Would you give me some of your corn?” So the farmer reaches in the bag and carefully pulls out one kernel of corn and places it in the palm of the king’s hand. The king says, “Thank you.” He reaches inside the carriage and pulls out a bag of his own; he pulls out one gold coin and hands it to the farmer; puts his bag back in the carriage, shuts the door, and drives away; with the farmer standing there looking at the gold coin, wondering what would have happened if he’d given the king a handful of corn, or maybe even the whole bag.
Keep in mind this is not a game. Don’t think you can get away with just moving your mouth and making nice sounding words come out. Men may be impressed with how you talk; but God is looking at your heart. Like I said in the beginning, mostly all that’s standing between you and God is you. God is ready, willing and waiting.
We need to put our actions behind our words. Without that, we cannot maintain our relationship with God. It’s an every day deal. Get up every morning and tell God, “This is a new day Lord, and I’m giving myself to You again today, so You can do whatever You want to with me. Forgive me for my past failures; cleanse me from all the guilt I feel. Mold me into the kind of person You want me to be, TODAY.” We have to replace our old habits of sin and Satan with new habits of trusting God to take care of us, instead of us trying to take care of ourselves.