There are moments—moments in our lives that have us feeling like we’re plagued by the weight of our sin, by the urgency to fix ourselves.
I think these moments are what makes grace feel so unobtainable. We can’t help but scramble and chase, tripping over ourselves as we search for this feeling that we’re good, that we’re accepted, that we’re worthy of love.
I recently sat down with one of my very best friends, Luke Steinkamp, and we talked about the idea of grace, and how sometimes, we feel like it’s beyond us. Luke is a sophomore at Kent State University studying Applied Conflict Management and Criminal Justice.
Luke and I worked together in the Janitorial Department at the YMCA of the Rockies this last Summer, and that’s primarily where we became friends and got to know each other.
When we sat down together, Luke explained to me that throughout this season in his life, he’s learning grace; learning God’s grace, and what it looks like to give himself grace.
In the last few weeks, his struggle with receiving grace has been coupled with a feeling of apathy; he questions what he should do when it [life + the spirit] feels dry, when he doesn’t feel anything.
It’s weird to feel like that, like we’re disconnected and far from God.
But Luke says there’s hope.
“I don’t need my emotions to trust in Truth,” he explained. “I’m learning to lean on God, not my emotions.”Luke
He explained that God is consistent
even when especially when our emotions aren’t, and that’s something that’s worthy of praise.
Through this time, Luke is pressing into prayer, knowing that God answers prayer and is moving regardless if we see it or not.
In a season of apathy, it’s important to be accountable with other people; allow others to pour the Truth into your life, reminding you of God’s steadfast love and GRACE.
the Word of God says,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”John 10:10, NIV
This is so important to remember; we have life through Jesus not in this world. We weren’t made for this world, we were made for Heaven, so naturally, we’re going to experience times in which apathy drives itself like a wall between us and the Lord.
This is why we NEED to pray; Luke explained that prayer has played a significant role in his life as he fights these feelings; pray with conviction.
Luke brought up a story in 2nd Samuel that has been fundamental in reminding him of God’s grace and peace.
In 2nd Samuel 5, David inquires of the Lord and asks him if he should attack the Philistines. God tells him that He’ll deliver the Philistines to him, so David goes. Some stuff goes down, and eventually the Philistines try to come at David, so David inquires of the Lord a second time and God tells David to wait and for him “not [to] go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” (2 Samuel 5: 22-25).
This passage really spoke to Luke; David demonstrates what it looks like to rely fully on the Lord. Like David, Luke prays that God will make him rely on God instead of running to other things that aren’t God. Luke said, “I want to wait for the tops of the poplar trees to rustle so I know it’s time,” and that implies prayer—confident prayer and trust in the Lord.
When we rely on God, that weight that we feel—that pressure I talked about in the beginning, is lifted off of our shoulders.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
When we lean on God, we don’t have to perform.
The reason grace feels so out of reach is because we’re on that track, we’re chasing tirelessly after something that we physically cannot do; we’re trying to atone our own sin. We can’t do that. That’s the whole reason we need Jesus.
Maybe this verse is taken completely out of context, but I’m reminded of Proverbs 28:1 whenever I think of this idea, “the wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”
Sometimes, it feels like God is disappointed in us, so we run away from Him because we’d rather be far away from Him than sit in the feeling that He wants nothing to do with us. That’s not at all how grace works though; God looks at us through a lens covered by the blood of Jesus. The gospel is before our fall; like a bank, we’re able to go and withdraw grace from the Jesus-deposit that never hits $0.00. Grace is a divine empowerment to do great things, but without Jesus, we can’t really live that out.
Luke said it best, “you didn’t meet the standard, you’ve been lifted to that standard by Jesus.”
The fact is, we might never fully understand how the grace of God works, but that’s okay—there’s grace for that.
As promised as a part of the For When’s section, here are some things that you should remember for when grace feels out of reach:
Be consistent! Sometimes you have to work despite yourself; in spite of your feelings, run toward God. Figure out what it looks like for you to make time for Him, and then spend time in the Word and in prayer. Choose to be consistent even when you don’t feel like it. Read, take notes, and remember that you can always encounter God through His Word if not in your emotions.
- Praise before your breakthrough
This is actually a song by Bryan and Katie Torwalt (a great couple + music duo). It’s so incredibly paramount that we understand that we don’t always have the answers—praise Him anyway. Luke also recommends listening to Praise Will Be My Song (also by Bryan and Katie Torwalt)
Spend time with other people who love the Lord. Community is more than just going to church, it’s surrounding yourself with people who are on the same journey as you, who are chasing after God’s will and walking in obedience.
- Pray with conviction
We touched on this a little earlier, but it’s always applicable. Pray confidently; remember Who you’re talking to—He already knows how you feel, all of your needs, and what you want from Him—you’re honesty will promote vulnerability with the best Guy to be vulnerable with!
- Pray for a new perspective
As you’re praying with confidence + conviction, ask God for fresh eyes. Sometimes our hearts get so weary from living in this world that we struggle to remember what it was like when we were first starting out, before the world stirred the apathy into our minds. Pray that God would pour out a new, fresh, perspective. He wants to give it to ya.
Thanks Luke. Thanks God.
Grace and Peace