Monday, March 05, 2007

What's so offensive about grace?


"What is so offensive about Grace?"
This thought has been a “title” in my head for several months now. Seriously, why is Christ so offensive to some? I got my hair cut the week before we laid Noah before the Lord, and with any great haircut, there is great conversation. I guess I set the tone when I sat down in the chair for the “preview” and the person asked what I wanted done. I very plainly said, “Well, in one week my husband and I are taking our son off life support. We’ll be having a photographer come in to capture our last day together, so, can you transform my hair to look good for the pictures?” We spent the next hour talking of nothing trivial. It was refreshing and encouraging to speak to a stranger about life, death, and hope…a captive conversation for the both of us.

This person told me of their upbringing, that their father was Muslim and mother a Catholic. Neither were practicing either faith. Growing up, they never spoke of faith or religion, it was a forbidden topic. They shared some things that were gut wrenching and then basically said that they believe in God but has yet to find a religion that works for them. I told this person that was good because religion is dead. Religion is man’s attempt to get to God but that grace is God reaching out to man through His son, Jesus Christ. I told them that whether they believe it or not, whether anyone believes it or accepts it, Jesus Christ died on a cross 2000 years ago to forgive us of our sins and renew our relationship with the living God who created all of us. I told the person that when I grew up, I had always believed that Jesus was my Savior. I knew what He had done for me and anyone else who would believe, but that I never allowed Him to be in charge of my life...There is a MAJOR DIFFERENCE. I said that at one point I realized I didn't have it all together and that if I really believed God was who He claimed to be, then I was pretty safe to entrust my life and will into His...Then, I said, "I realize this probably sounds crazy..." They said, "Actually, what you said makes more sense to me than anything I have ever heard in my entire life."

I know that people who are offended or jaded by Christ have not met Him. I say that because to study the life of Jesus Christ would reveal a man that is daily misrepresented here on earth by His very own...I do it. Do you? Do you judge your neighbor or love them, regardless of your opinion of them? Are you only surrounded by people like yourself? Is everyone in your circle of life a believer and follower of Jesus Christ? Do you only go to "christian" dentists, ob/gyns, chiropractors, grocery stores, hairdressers? I pose these questions because if everyone and their dog that surrounds you is only a christian, how on earth are you loving and living the way Jesus did? He wasn't mutually exclusive. He hung out with anyone and everyone, except the pompous, arrogant religious leaders that were legalistic death traps.

No, you don't have to become a prostitute, staunch theologian, heroin addict, murderer, an elite intellectual, or thief to truly "hang out" with people who do not know the truth of Christ. Jesus didn't become a prosititute or legalistic religious priest. He was humble. He was powerful. He was and is Grace. A free gift. I know that the true offense is that I, or you, might actually have the audacity to not only believe it, but to tell of this Gift of Grace...

I can testify that if we hadn't walked this road with Noah with the Grace and Peace of knowing Christ, I personally would have been suicidal and hopelessly destitute. I am grateful that was not the case.

(p.s. Jason liked Em's hair...though it took him the weekend to get used to it)

37 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:38 PM

    As always Adrienne, you've left me with something HUGE to think about. I am still in the learning process and thru your blog I am catching on fast, thankfully. I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day about God and all that he's done in mine and my family's life. The friend I was speaking with could run circles around me with knowledge of the Bible but at the same time I feel that this person is like alot of people who love God including myself. I guess what I am trying to say is, it's easy for me to say how much of a believer I am but at the same time, if tragedy were to strike my family as it did yours, it would be a real challenge for me to have the same conversation with my friend. I don't know if I am even making any sense at all. I am just completely blown away by you everytime I read one of your posts at how faithful you are. I am getting so much out of your blog regarding loss and how to get thru it(if that's possible) knowing that it's going to be okay and we will see our loved one's again and that it's alright because they're with God. I am still paralyzed with fear though at the thought of anything happening to my children. I have been praying non-stop everyday and trying to learn more and more about the Bible so I am hoping that one day I will "get it" completely, like you. Again, thanks so much for all your wisdom and for being a total inspiration in my life. The picture of you and Noah is beautiful. It still breaks my heart though that he's not here. I'm still learning so please forgive me...

    Love,
    Paula and Family

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  2. I have always found your posts so uplifting, I hope you don't mind, I put a link to you on my blogspot page. Thank you for sharing your story with the world :) You are a BLESSING :) I too, needed your reminder that I do NOT interact with only Christians on a daily basis, and I need to live my life as such :) Thank you for an effective reminder.

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  3. Anonymous7:15 PM

    AMEN,thanks for that Adrienne! I love that you are light in a dark world! The way that you allow the Lord to use you in the lives of others is truly awesome.

    Thanks,
    chrissy

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  4. Anonymous7:15 PM

    I am also so very grateful that you know the peace and Grace of Christ, which brings me back to the "cha, cha, cha" comment. When I read that post, it brought such a smile to my face. Why? Because it showed that as you have stated before, you have not been just 'blowing sunshine' while sharing this journey. Instead it revealed that you mean what you say, and say what you mean. You will see Noah again, he is in the arms of Jesus, and although it is difficult here on earth you are full of hope because of Gods promises. Thank you for being so real, and reminding me to remain faithful even in the difficult times. From now on when I hear the words "cha, cha, cha" I will be reminded of Gods promises and your faithfulness in the midst of the storm. Cha, cha, cha my friend!
    Shonna (Barker)

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  5. I can't get through your post yet, as tears are filling my eyes as I look at that beautiful picture of you and Noah...so precious, so beautiful...

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  6. that picture is absolutely breathtaking. I am a Christian, but I know that I don't have a handle on grace yet. and yes, I catch myself judging all the time. I hate it because I know our Lord was not like that. He was kind and full of compassion and he was and IS a friend of sinners. We need to be the same; salt and light in this dark world, ministering to others and giving them the Gospel message of HOPE.

    I know I would have committed suicide a long time ago (and even tried once) without God and I never lost a child. How do people live without Him?

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

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  7. Adrienne, what a beautiful picture. It is so, so full of love and warmth... Keep on hanging in there. I know you miss Noah every second of every day and I understand your "amputee" feelings. I used to also think maybe I had imagined everything and Lauren was sleeping peacefully in her crib and I was going nuts. I would wonder what I wanted more, my baby back and my complete loss of sanity or my baby in Heaven and my (somewhat still) sane mind. I would play this painful scenario again and again until I finally would make myself walk upstairs and look at her empty crib just "to make sure."
    As you know, God holds you and brings you through. What you might not know yet is that it gets better. You will not be in this terrible despair indefinitely.
    God Bless you Adrienne and your beautiful family. Perhaps our babies are playing together in Heaven. Thank you for sharing such an intimate and incredibly beautiful picture of Noah and his incredible Mama.

    Mary

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  8. Sorry - one more thing. I love the book "A Travel Guide to Heaven" by Anthoney DeStefano. Maybe it's a little "light" for you, but it so beautifully speaks of Heaven that it lifts you while you read knowing your beautiful baby is enjoying such Splendor.

    I'm also reading "90 Minutes in Heaven" - a true story of a Minister who died for 90 minutes and came back to tell his story. Again, Heaven is so beautiful so amazing we don't even have "earthly" words that befit it. (Is befit a word?!)

    Anyway, I really hope these don't offend, but they gave/give me peace and a bit of serenity when I needed/need them most. God Bless.

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  9. I still cry a lot. I was crying in the car Saturday when a U2 song came on the radio. City of Lights....is that heaven? I pictured Noah there as I heard "oh you look so beautiful".

    And of course, I'm crying now as I look at that breathtaking photo of a mother and her child.

    I cry nearly everytime I think of you or pray for you. I'm not sure why. (I don't mean that in a bad way!:)

    You and your life and the life of Noah has touched my inner core in such a deep way. I can't explain it. It hurts, but I am so grateful for it. Does that make sense?

    God is so good. His grace and love is so powerful.

    He is using you...over and over and over...in countless ways and in countless lives.

    You keep on singing of His love and grace and shining your light for Jesus.

    Katy

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  10. Anonymous1:40 AM

    Somehow I ended up on your blog and I don't even know how I got here. I've read your blog in it's entirety in one sitting. Although there are many, many things your blog has blessed me with, it's amazing how God sends us just what we need, when we need it. I happened on this as I was SEVERELY stressing over my kids and upcoming travel plans - 2 college kids driving home 18 hours from TX to WY for spring break, and an 8th grader heading to San Francisco for Aquire the Fire. God used your blog to send my a message loud and clear...they aren't mine...they are His...He holds them in His hands and that's all I need. (I'll still probably remind them 10 times to watch for deer.)

    Your family is in my prayers...I can't begin to understand what you are going through...but thanks for allowing God to use you even in such an unimaginable loss for any mother.

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  11. "Actually, what you said makes more sense to me than anything I have ever heard in my entire life."

    I can totally concur with this. I was not brought up with any religion and before finding the story of Noah, I can say that I believe in God however I was not actively believing!! If that makes sense!

    I thank you for leading me back into the light - and for helping me rediscover my faith!!

    Thank you for sharing, this is a lovely photo of Noah and you, and thank you for being somewhat of an inspiration - although I know that you are the instrument that God has chosen to help me!

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  12. Anonymous2:04 AM

    itink its a wonderful title for ur book,because that little word sums it up.And i dont think anybody has the right to be offended by that word in this case or any,maybe the people that are offended of "grace" need a little bit more of it in their lives.Your picture with noah is just precious x

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  13. Anonymous7:07 AM

    I am so happy to see a post such as this one. I have been following your journey since the beginning and commentinmg on just about every post.
    You see, I am a jew and my husband is a catholic. We are raising our 16 month old daughter in a interfaith home. We get questions about how we are raising our child from both sides of the family. At this point in time, we always say, "regardless of religion, we are raising our child to have faith and grace." I am forwarded your post today to everyone I know with email on both sides of the family. I feel that you explain it so much better than my husband or I ever could.
    I pray for your family daily. My method of prayer may be different from the next persons, but they are my hope for you and your family and I feel that God hears my prayers as loud as the next persons!
    Thank you so much for sharing your words today. Although we may be of different faiths we are all gifts from God.
    P.S. So glad that Jason liked Em's hair!

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  14. Anonymous7:19 AM

    I hope you know of the ministry you provide!

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  15. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Beautiful, Beautiful picture...MY FAVORITE!

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  16. I really enjoyed this entry once again. I've been a 'lurker' here for a while and I have really been blessed by your words. Thank you! I'm so glad you wrote, "a free gift". That is what Grace is. Christianity is the only religion out there based on what was done for us -- not based on what we 'do'. It is a free gift -- and I think some denominations even in our own religion forget that. It's free and it's ALWAYS enough. Jesus paid the ultimate and that was ENOUGH - if it wasn't enough - if we had to pretend to be 'good' or do some sort of rituals or say certain prayers or whatever then that means that Jesus did not have to go through everything He did - and God would never do it that way!

    Thank God for grace. and thank God for people like you that absolutely love the Lord and want to help others know the Grace that He has given you and will give to them.

    - Randi R :)

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  17. Back in highschool I took an Apologetics class, which can be defined as "The art of defending your faith." Our teacher was also our principal and he did an incredible job of giving us an overview of the five main religions in the United States. However, the only thing I really remember out of all of the things he taught us is this: REGARDLESS OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF SCRIPTURE, EITHER THE BIBLE OR THE OTHER RELIGIONS' VERSION THEREOF, THE MOST POWERFUL THING YOU CAN PROVIDE TO PEOPLE WHEN WITNESSING IS PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. NO ONE CAN REFUTE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. THEY CAN ARGUE SCRIPTURE, LAMBAST YOUR BELIEFS, BUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IS JUST THAT - YOURS.

    I know that a lot of people reading your blog are sometimes intimidated by your knowledge of scripture so that when they consider witnessing to others, as you have so strongly encouraged us to do, they hesitate because of their lack of memorized scriptures. BUT, this last blog touches back to my statement above - you shared your experience, your RELATIONSHIP with Jesus/God/Holy Spirit and the person hearing it was touched. Everyone has THAT kind of story to tell, regardless of scripture references or not.

    So, once again, thank you for demonstrating yet another way that we can share Jesus to the people that we touch every day. At this point, you've left us no excuses!!! :-)

    Continued healing and blessings,
    Lynette - Tulsa, OK

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  18. Mandy772:30 PM

    I wish I could think of something to say to this posting. I honestly feel like you have said it all and there is nothing left to say. Thank you.

    And by the way... your hair looked beautiful in the photos. The woman did a lovely job.

    Love,
    Mandy77

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  19. I'm not a fan of religion either!!

    Grace liberates us and even though we may mess up or make mistakes, Grace gives us the confidence to come boldly to the throne room of Grace and enjoy God, His presence and His power.

    Religion is about what we can do to prove ourselves worthy to God - based on our standards.

    It's not about what we do for God, our works for the Kingdom, our spiritual resume, doing "stuff" to make us feel more holy or worthy or more righteous to prove we are living a pure life.

    It's about whether or not our lives attract unsaved people to the gospel!

    Another great post Adrienne, I've enjoyed reading your blog and I admire your faith and strength - that I know can only come because of your understanding of your position in Christ.

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  20. Tammy6:51 PM

    Once again, what you have written is exactly what I needed to hear. Each day, I look forward to reading your testimony. There will definately be a huge crown with your name on it in Heaven! Thank you again!

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  21. Anonymous7:05 PM

    About 10 years ago, I heard a minister define GRACE as "God's ability within a person to do something"....ever since that time, it has made more sense to me. It is God's gift to me, His ability within me to work out my salvation with fear and trembling....to love like He does, to forgive, to understand the way He wants me to....to witness....to let Him use me for His purposes. It is His ability within me and not my own. Sometimes, i have been afraid to ask Him for more grace for a thing that is difficult to do, because I'm afraid to have Him lead me there....but I have gotten over most of the fear of that....because He is always faithful...so faithful. I sometimes didn't want to ask for grace to be with Noah, day after day, watching over him, protecting his life...if I was just going to have to let him go. But I asked for God's grace anyway...and He gave it to me...and still does. Love, Mom

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  22. Adrienne~
    I wrote of similar thoughts and themes on my Nitty.Gritty. blog today. As one who has lived through death of a child and personal tragedy and ongoing challenges with my daughter and her disabilities, I ask myself over and over, "how would I ever get through this without my hope and faith in God?". When I look around at the brokeness and pain in the lives of every living person, I am sometimes 'wowed' that the world is in as "good" of shape as it is. Aren't you? I mean, I sometimes I feel like I've got it 'so easy'...I have the arms of God holding me up when I'm too weak to stand on my own, I've got the promise of Heaven, the hope of resurrection, a peace in my heart that passes all understanding, and the truth of the Bible showing me example after example of God being true to His promises to others, since the beginning of time! It blows me away that people can hear of God's love and grace, and yet still choose NOT to accept it. I have found my 'tragedy' to be a powerful "platform" for sharing my faith. I have asked God from a very young age in life to use me in whatever way He can to show others the truth of His love and grace. I had no idea it would be through such pain and sorrow...and now through my obvious joy in life in spite of all that has gone wrong. As one of your readers said, nobody can 'argue' someone's testimony...it's just the way things are. What a beautiful thing that you are doing, and I know from personal experience that it isn't easy, and it requires effort and I sometimes explain it as not even being me- but it's God Himself in and through me- there is no other explanation for the peace I have and wish to share with others. I am humbled that God chose me to be the one on the receiving end of a lot of hardship...but one laced with goodness and mercy every step of the way as well. I think of you and Jason and Em and all the daily things that remind you of Noah, and it warms my heart to know that God is with you- as He has promised to be. He's had lots of experience in the valleys...and I know He is glorified by your journey as you so boldly and honestly share it with all who read your blog. Continued love and care from a Mom who has a 'treasure laid up in Heaven' too. Thank you for being so transparent, and for sharing God's message of grace.

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  23. Anonymous8:28 PM

    There is only one hairstyle, next to long and natural, that little girls should sport and that is a bob. Emily could not look more spetacular. Thinking about you daily...love,love,

    Rosana

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  24. Are you ever in awe of how big God's world is and how small and unique it actually is? You don't know my, but my sister Malinda Petersen who graduated from high school with your husband passed this site to my mom and I so we could be a part of the prayer chain. I've been inspired of your writings and how similar your faith is to my best friend and her family. I'm visiting her right now and noticed a picture of Adam Graves on her fridge.
    I asked if Jason was his brother and it turns out my friend Joy (used to be Katy) MacMurchy and her family are close with Jason's family.
    When Joy's dad passed away our freshmen year of college it was hard watching my best friend grieve yet be at such peace. Her mother Caren played the drums at her husbands funeral and proclaimed her jealousy to Pastor Spahr about how Robert went to Heaven!
    It is such an incredible influence to be surrounded by people who shine in God's glory and hear their stories.
    How awesome it is you pampered yourself and had a haircut for the pictures and the celebration of Noah's life. I mean, he did enter the Lord's Kingdom, so what better excuse to primp yourself for such an event.
    God can't wait to send us home. As a child I believed Heaven was sleeping on clouds that were made of cotton and then they would taste like cotton candy. As I've grown older I've learned that no matter how amazing of an idea Heaven is to me, whether it be cotton candy or a closet full of shoes or a Third Day concert, it's an infinite amount better upstairs.
    What better reason to be at peace and celebrate? Thank you for your honesty and ability to share your family's experience. It validates that how the MacMurchy's and you honored your family member's life, is a-ok. And God enJOYs that. It may be the best present to give God...celebrating his plan.
    I'm prayin' for your familY!! And thank you for the inspiration!--Love and God Speed--Anna Petersen

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  25. Anonymous6:24 AM

    Adrienne,
    I just love you!!!! I noticed that in this post you write as though you are speaking only to your hairdresser. Then occasionally you write "I told them" As I am reading, I picture you preaching to several in the salon who have gathered to hear your profound yet lovingly friendly words. And then in my minds eye..... I see Jesus.

    You are doing His work, sweet Adrienne.

    Keep up the love. It was and is most of what our Father desires of us and you obviously not only "get it", you can't help yourself. OOOOO, again, I just love you!!

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  26. After being raised in a Christian family and believing and searching for God when I really found Jesus and the truth the one thing that struck me was how "simple" it was. (You can read my testimony on my blog.) I realized that I was the one that had made it hard. 51 years later I still believe that. It is so "simple" just believe!!!

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  27. The entire time I read I kept hearing the words, "your grace is enough, your grace is enough, your grace is enough for me."

    Amen sister!

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  28. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Adrienne, I hope you and Jason and Em are well. My family continues to pray for you all and you are always in are thoughts. My son, Cameron, talks about Noah like he was his best friend. Thank you for continuing to post!

    You really hit home with your message. I think one of the most important values I can instill in my children is to love our neighbors and not judge. Sometimes it is hard to lead by example instead of preaching. Anyway, Thanks for reminding me what is important over and over again!
    Much love and prayers,
    Katja and Family.

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  29. I was thinking more about this. .. grace is only offensive to those that think they can earn favor with God or have "some" merit in themselves, or don't see their need for it. In other words, they don't see themselves as sinners against a Holy and just God deserving hell and NEEDING a Saviour. Most people think they are really not that bad if they have not murdered, committed adultery, etc. I have a friend who believes that her "righteous" Christian upbringing and her basic morality is good enough. Those are the hardest people to convince that they need God's grace in salvation.
    I see it even among professing Christians too. They trust in their standards, etc. It is really just a veiled form of pride.

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  30. Anonymous3:39 PM

    The picture is amazing. I see the love, pain, peace and grace of that moment in time. As a Mother, it makes my heart ache for you for so many reasons.

    It also makes me rejoice at the thought of knowing you'll get to hold him that way again.

    Much love and God Bless.
    -Annalisa

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  31. Anonymous7:28 PM

    Fervent prayer.

    That is one more thing I see in this. I cam home and looked again, blew it up, studied it. It's real, captivating and moving.

    The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" - I know the red rose photo was favored as a possibility for your book cover by most, but my vote would be for this one. There's something about it that seems to convey all of the emotion you've expressed over time... and some that you may not have.

    My 2 cents.
    -Annalisa

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  32. AMEN ade. I am so glad God, in his grace, stripped religion from my hands and put his scarred hand in mine. Every day here, there is no amount of knowlege and words that will lead anyone to the greatest love of all, but only grace. A living, loving, real life with Jesus that touches others.

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  33. Anonymous9:43 AM

    You are an amazing woman.

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  34. Anonymous4:05 PM

    I think "grace" is the most perfect name for the book, because im sure many people will agree that you and your family would not be the people you are today if you had not handled this journey without it.I come to this blog evryday to read,and even if you havent posted a blog i go back and read through the others.I cannot relate to your loss but i feel for you deeply,and as strange as this sounds my arms and heart ache for you,as a mother i dont need to explain why..........Its a privelage that you share this blog with us and i cannot wait for your book x x x x
    suzanne

    united kingdom.

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  35. I don't know where I would be without God's grace. Probably dead. He can transform any life.
    You have taught me that I can get through anything as long as I am going through it wth God.

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  36. Anonymous8:15 PM

    I have to tell you, Adrienne, I envy you. I love the photos of your family. When we went to the hospital to have our first daughter, Sarah, I forgot our camera. Thank goodness a friend came to visit or we wouldn't have the 13 beautiful photos of our first baby. We saved half the shots for the second day. Sadly and unexpectedly, Sarah got sick so fast we never took another. When we left the hospital after she died, we developed the 13 and realized it wasn't enough. At the funeral home we took 3 rolls. I remember growing up seeing my aunt's pictures of her stillborn daughter and I wondered to myself - what kind of person does that? Now I know - it's a mother. A mother who doesn't want to forget. A mother who wants to look at her child over and over, but can't. I am so happy to see that you took advantage of the little while. Hindsight is 20/20.

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