Monday, August 29, 2011

Grace Covers This, Too

I just forced down two muffins that were free of gluten, sugar, and dairy. They were also free of flavor even remotely palatable.

Back in my sugar-indulging, cracker-loving days I wouldn't have expected "health nut" muffins like these to taste any better than cardboard, but these days I know better. I know because I have a mom whose ability to whip up tasty concoctions with bizarre ingredients knows no bounds. I know because I've had some minor culinary successes on this journey toward restored health.

Somehow, though, these muffins didn't make the cut (did I accidentally pour strychnine in the batter?). And as I stared down at the ten remaining crispy and deceivingly enticing muffin tops, I wondered how in the world I would manage to eat them all.

Not eating them was an appealing option for about .0789 seconds, until I started calculating what it cost to make them. Six dollars for the pecans, $1 for the gluten-free flour, $1 for the gluten-free oats, $3 for the raw honey, and on and on, until my bank account had taken quite a hit and my shoulders sagged with guilt at the thought of the extravagant waste I'd indulge in by...not eating them.

The day is almost over now. I haven't touched the fluffy taste bud offenders and my shoulders are still sagging with my guilt-laden spirit, and this is not the first time I can't scrape guilt's sticky residue out of the pit of my stomach.

Just the other day guilt paid me a visit when I broke a gorgeous goblet while trying to carefully wash dishes, found an opened can of moldy refried beans at the back of the refrigerator (all my tupperware were otherwise engaged!), forgot to water my flowers, and went three days without washing dishes.

Guilt's frequent assaults have made me realize that, although I easily admit my frail humanity when discussing sin's iron grip, I leave little room for error in my daily, apparently innocuous activities. I forget that I am human—just human—in a fallen world where the slippery soap that makes dirty things shine can also make you drop beautiful goblets; where fridges aren't magic wardrobes—they have backs, and beans often like to chill there behind the bigger, more attention-worthy items; where things that are out of sight often become out of mind, especially when it's 100 degrees outside and all that matters is keeping cool; and where sickness wreaks havoc on weak bodies, making it hard to roll out of bed some mornings, much less do the dishes at night.

I am a fallen human, *Sigh*, in a fallen world, and sometimes I mess up expensive muffins. I wish I were okay with that. I wish I were better at giving myself permission to just be human; that my heart believed my head when it tells me these foibles are expected and trivial, and there is grace sufficient to cover them.

My battle with chronic illness this year is slowly teaching me the sufficiency of God's grace in dark, sometimes desperate seasons. When I struggle to get out bed, cook dinner, and carry on a long conversation; when I wake up to a new ailment or the doctor finds another worn down organ, and when all I want to do is hike a mountain or hit the weights, I try to invite God into that moment, to teach me the sufficiency of his grace.

And he is teaching me. My experience is confirming something the Bible told me long ago: that his grace knows no bounds. It covers my sin and my frail body. It is the thing that sustains my organs and nourishes my soul. It gently shows me the ways I can grow, and assures me that I'm loved in my weakness.

And so I wonder why I don't invite God to show me the sufficiency of his grace when I ruin muffin batter and waste half a can of beans. For surely, if his grace forgives my sin and sustains me in my illness, it can free me from the burden of trying to be a flawless baker, gardener, finance manager, and dish-washer. Surely grace can teach me, slowly slowly, that Jesus died for the law-breakers and the recipe-destroyers—he died for fallen humans, and he's not under the delusion that we're anything else.

There is no guilt under this human-loving grace, and so I'm learning not to compartmentalize grace by living as if it only covered my sin (and I still struggle to believe this). I want to ask God to teach me the sufficiency of his grace when I'm late to work, bounce a check, neglect my chores, waste perfectly good beans, and mess up really expensive muffins. And I think Grace likes being invited into the little things.


  1. Ok Sarah. I need to email you for advice. We just discovered that Alexander is allergic to wheat (along with a host of other things), and I'm suddenly immersed in reading "Gluten Free for Dummies" from the library. Help!

  2. I just replied to the comment where you left your email, and realized I should give you mine. It's

    I hope I can be of some help to you!

  3. Thank you! I'll email you tomorrow. :-)