Friday, January 18, 2013

When the Bar Is Too High...

I love to read the stories of saints' lives.  They inspire me so much.  The situations and circumstances they faced often seemed insurmountable.  Yet they didn't let those things pull them away from Christ.  In fact, they allowed Christ to use their hard times to mold them more into His image.  Many of them died horrible deaths, but still held fast to their faith.  And often, others were converted by witnessing their martyrdom.  I am so amazed, and yet...

When I read of the holiness of those who lived in biblical times, or the incredible holiness of the martyrs and saints who have lived since then, I am scared!  I mean, who can live up to that standard?  The Bible tells us to be "holy as He [God] is holy" and they did that.  But me?  Are you kidding?  I find myself confessing the same sins over and over.  I continually say and do things I know are displeasing to God.  I pray prayers that seem to bounce back to me from the ceiling.  I allow the trials and tribulations of life to beat me down.  I know the woman in the mirror, and she is far from holy.

Recently, in realizing how scary it is to know I'm so far from His holiness and how scared I am to try to measure up to the saints, I also realized the truth of the matter:  holiness is a grace, and grace is nothing to be scared of.  Grace is a gift.  Gifts are not scary.  They're exciting!

If we read Romans 7, we see that even the great apostle, St. Paul, struggled with holiness.  "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good."  (vs. 15-16).  Yet who would ever say he was not a holy man?  He wrote most of the New Testament!

The reality is, we live in a sinful world.  God knows that.  He knows we fall to sin.  And yes, He does have a high standard.  But when we truly desire to live for Him, He gives the grace we need to be holy.  He doesn't ask the impossible of us, without making the way for it to be possible!

What wondrous love is this???

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