Ted, it has been said that you have “fallen from grace”. This phrase is very often used when pastors are asked to step down from their ministry positions because of impropriety. What people fail to realize and what I learned from a good pastor friend of mine who went through somewhat of a public dismantling of his own ministry years ago is this:
You didn’t fall from grace Ted, you have fallen into grace.
People want to keep you from grace. These “great religious leaders” you have been asked to submit to for “restoration” don’t want you to have grace. The Dobson’s of the world don’t want you to experience grace. They want you to jump through hoops to earn it back. They want to try and “fix you” Ted and make you look all “shiny and spiffy” again. But do you know what that gets you? It gets you back to the place of pretending. It puts you back on the same carousel you just fell off.
Others telling you that you have “fallen from grace” implies that you now have to climb your way back up to the place you were before. It puts you back on that merry-go-round of goodness that leads you nowhere. It keeps you spinning so you never experience true grace. You and I know that the place where your were wasn’t grace. It was getting you nowhere close to grace. The place you were before was a prison… it was a cage. Whatever the name for it, where you were before wasn’t named grace.
Grace isn’t gaining other peoples approval. It isn’t about people liking you. It isn’t your ability to keep a smile on your face when the world is falling down all around you. Grace isn’t feeling good about the things we have done or justifying the things we have done wrong. Grace isn’t telling others what grace is like and expecting they will believe you just because you say it. It isn’t “seven steps”, or “three ways” or “five principles”. There isn’t a formula for grace.
Grace is that feeling of completeness you have longed for in your life. It is the ability to look in the mirror now and know that you no longer have to hide who you really are to those around you. It is being real at all times throughout your day and knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you… this is who you are. Grace is normally found when you have fallen and reached out to grab the end of your rope. It is the beginning of the journey for your life, not a destination where you arrive and stay. In grace, you will finally be joining your public and your private self into one celebration of a life well lived. A life lived with honesty, responsibility and wholeness at the forefront.
Grace is freedom.
And for those who have found the freedom of grace, life is never the same. Good luck on your journey Ted.