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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Disruptive Grace

"What does it mean to love, forgive, and do good to someone who has hurt you?" That's a poignant question in light of all the Lord has had me walk through recently. It comes from a book entitled Bold Love by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman. An amazing book that the Lord has been using throughout the two years it's taken me to read it. It’s so full of truth I’ve needed time to digest it~ bit by tiny bit. I’ve been amazed by how perfect God’s timing has been with when I read each section of this book. Proof positive that God really is involved in the little details of life!

Here’s an interesting “formula of sorts” that explains what it means to love boldly:

“Hungering for restoration+ revoking revenge+ pursuing goodness= forgiveness that invites repentance and the opportunity for reconciliation.”

As I’ve walked through some painful places in my ten-year marriage, none were as hard as looking in my own mirror and realizing how poorly I’ve loved. I’ve spent a lot of time having no desire for restoration and used revenge in the form of angry words and icy silence to punish when I’ve been hurt. Anger has been my protection and my comforter for a good part of my life.

But in the desert I’m walking through, I’ve seen anger for what it really is. A heavy bundle that only weakens my back for the journey. Instead of providing protection, anger insulates. It chokes the desire for restoration and in so doing deadens any hope. All the time I thought I was being kept safe by using anger I was, in truth, separating myself from healing and the life-giving forgiveness that only comes from the cross.

As I’m learning to let go of repayment for an offense, I’m more able to see what love truly is. There are a few quotes from Bold Love that say so perfectly what God is making real in my heart.

“Love may pardon an offense, but it does not ignore the ugliness and arrogance that blights beauty.”

“Love must be an intrusion of a good gift of word or deed that makes the greatest demand of life: Follow Christ and serve Him with your whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.”

“Bold love is the tenacious, irrepressible energy to do good in order to surprise and conquer evil.”

Love is not a weak emotion. It has more to do with calling people out of hiding and into Christ than the warm fuzzies we associate with it.

It’s hard.

Very hard.

In my own experience this has best been done when I refuse to allow anger to control me. Instead, I address the person who’s hurt me with a love that says “I want to have a relationship with you, but we have to deal with your sin.” I spare no words in calling sin, sin. (mine or anyone else’s) At the same time, I’m learning to do so with a heart that desires change for the other person’s good. And ultimately for God’s glory.

Love draws people to life while at the same time warning them of death. An example that comes to mind is a conversation, actually many conversations, where my best friend has allowed me to spout off about a hurt I’ve received. She will listen, sympathize, and sometimes offer direction. But if I begin to badmouth the person who’s hurt me she will stop me short and say with powerful love, “You are sinning. I love you and I care that your heart is hurt. But it will not help you or honor God if you keep going down this path.”

The first time she said those words I about blew a fuse. I’m hurt and she’s pointing out my sin? Yep. That’s love. She loved me enough to point me to God and warm me of what would destroy me.

How do I do the same? Especially when I’ve been hurt badly. How do I love the person that feels at that moment like an enemy?

Bold Love defines an enemy this way: “An enemy is anyone who intentionally or unwittingly harms you for their gain.” I’ve been an enemy to those closest to me when I’ve tried to manage life without depending on God. I didn’t hurt them on purpose, but nevertheless I did hurt them because “my way” is all about me and not pointing anyone to God.

It helps to realize I’ve been an enemy when I consider loving someone who’s acting like an enemy to me. But it doesn’t quite answer the “how to” of this call to bold love.

I believe the best place to look for that answer is in the Word…

Romans 12:20 says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Now the goal here is not revenge. It’s not to inflict pain, but to offer what the enemy really needs. In giving what’s needed there may well be pain, but it’s a redemptive pain. Like that of wrestling a sick child to get the necessary medicine down his or her throat. The purpose is to give what is good. To love. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

The way to love an enemy is through disruptive grace. Not giving an enemy what is expected (retaliation, anger, cowering to his or her demands) but giving the enemy what is needed to point them to God.

Disruptive grace is not an “I forgive you, let’s move on.” It’s an honest presentation of the problem, consequences, and a clear choice of what’s next. Like Nathan’s confrontation of King David in 2 Samuel 12. The prophet exposed David’s sin and left the king with a clear choice—get right with God or don’t. Either way the consequences were severe.

In the same way disruptive grace exposes the sin in our own hearts so that we have a clear choice—get on our face before God or don’t. If we will allow the Lord to purify and renew us, then we can be the holy tools God uses to extend His disruptive grace to those we love.

This grace longs for freedom and for both people in the relationship to know God and be changed for incredible good. It refuses to ignore the sin, but it confronts it with cleaver goodness—giving what is most needed. Kindness without compliance or minimizing the sin. Strength coupled with tenderness. These combinations only come when we are walking in God’s light and listening carefully to Him.

From Bold Love: “Goodness surprises evil because it does not fight according to the principles of brute force, power, intimidation, and shame. It is creative and unpredictable, and can be powerfully overwhelming to an enemy whose victory depends on using his skill to play the same game over and over again.”

Where do we start to learn this different way of relating?

Pray for wisdom. James 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

“We are to pray to the Father to act on behalf of our enemies; we are to pray for God to work in our enemies’ lives, to restrain evil, to deepen consciousness of harm, to destroy their arrogance so that life and grace might flourish. We are equally to pray for wisdom and all that blocks the development of wisdom in our life.”

“Prayer is the best way to invite God to use us and to teach us what it means to love boldly.”

Give good words. Speak words of truth that will guide an enemy to God. Be honest about your hurt and the consequences of their behavior.

“Our words of blessing are meant to arouse legitimate longing, expose emptiness, and deflate the enemy’s attempts to shame or intimidate. Blessing should be designed to open the heart of an enemy to astonishment and curiosity.”

Do good deeds.

“No matter how powerful, clever, and penetrating words are, they are never enough.”

My own experience in applying what I’ve learned in Bold Love has taken many forms. It’s included boundaries in a relationship that cut off contact until the enemy was ready to deal honestly with their heart. When I did that I was clear on my motive (to restore the relationship) and kind with my words (by God's amazing grace and control of the Holy Spirit.) Meaning I didn’t slam them, but I was honest about the reason for the no contact request. Loving boldly has also included welcoming that person back into my heart, one small step at a time.

Love is hard. It’s messy. And it doesn’t always feel like love. Often it feels more like the cross. But that’s the most perfect picture of love there is.

Even though I have a long way to go, my hope and prayer is that, as I grow closer to Christ, I’ll learn more and more how to love well.

To love boldly.

Will you join me?

John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."


HeyJules said...

Often it feels like the cross...

Amen sister, you got that one right.

You also got the rest of the line right, too.

It's hard to know the difference between forgiving and loving in spite of the offense and forgiving and loving but also moving on. You love till you can't love anymore, is what I try to go with. But in the end, sometimes moving on IS the answer (not saying that applies here!) I just mean that we can't feel bad about letting go of love when love is no longer there. You still have love though - all this fighting for strength, guidance, and your endless striving to overcome the hurt. You're in my thoughts and my prayers that you'll find your way through this desert to the land of milk and honey.

Amy Wallace said...

Thank you so much for your prayers, Jules. It's a real encouragement to read your posts and hear your heart. It is hard to know when to move on and let go of a relationship. This is one of many areas where I'm so glad we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. He knows everything and even when we don't understand we can trust His wisdom and guidance in every situation.

Some days that land of milk and honey seems so far away. And some days I can taste it... But one day we'll enjoy that Promised Land rest forever. I am SO looking forward to that day!


eddhuron2091 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
HeyJules said...

Amy, are you doing alright? You haven't posted in awhile and I was getting worried about you. If you need to talk, email me.

Amy Wallace said...


Thanks so much for being concerned about me! I hadn't realized it's been almost two weeks since I've posted. I'll be praying about what to write soon!

I've been hard at work on my Bible study lessons for teaching 12th grade~ I'm SO excited about teaching this year!~ and doing homeschool lesson plans for my girls. (I'm VERY excited about teaching my princesses too!) I've also been getting ready for a writer's conference in early September. So that's what I've been up to. Maybe I'll blog about teaching. ;-)

Thanks again for your email! I'll be posting again soon!


HeyJules said...

Okay! Good reason not to blog. : )

Jay said...

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Ted Stander said...

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Jay said...

Amy Wallace it sounds like your school year is very much on track! After reading Disruptive Grace, I feel it would make a perfect article for my site homeschool gathering place, with your permission.

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