Sunday, July 6, 2014

Between His Shoulders

I've been following a new blogger lately. She's been writing about something that to a lot of believers would be a 'ho-hum' topic: Grace. 

When I read what she writes, though, my heart stirs within me because she doesn't just talk about Grace as some theological construct but as a moment-by-moment, vibrant experience that has transformed her life even in the most mundane of experiences. She writes from personal, transformational experience and it's very, VERY hard to argue with that.

Not that I'd want to.

I've written many times about the gullible Galatians who thought they could add to what Jesus had done for them by keeping the law, following the rules, compiling a list of dos and don'ts. And I've said many times that this is the fallacy into which the modern church has fallen. Some have called this the Jezebel spirit - the spirit of religion. It is a very narrow view of a very wide, vast God.

My friend understands that, and for many years she lived in that religious experience. But she also understands and has experienced the truth: that the Christian life is just Jesus. That's it. There's nothing more complicated about it than that. Because of what Jesus did, we are forgiven: past, present, and future. No amount of straining or trying harder will make Him love us more or make us love Him more. It's just Him. Just His Grace. 

Many people I hang around with are actually frightened by that kind of talk. They think that saying that we don't have to DO anything once we are born again is equivalent to a license to sin (you know, "I can do anything I want because God will forgive me so I think I'll just go hog-wild.") I understand that the idea of that kind of Grace wouldn't make sense to someone who still believes more in the depravity of human nature than in God's unconditional love, who is thinking in human terms because human love is so often dependent on what the other person does or doesn't do. But God is bigger than that. His love isn't like our love. His love is limitless, lavish, and totally scandalous in its intensity.

Something my new friend said on her blog recently (in fact, her blog was how we met) struck me and vibrated something inside of me that was just waiting, longing for someone else to "get" this: "I have yet to see a heart that is gripped by God's unbelievable grace that wants to go out and sin. Just doesn't happen like that. No way. No how. In fact, I would have to argue that the opposite occurs!" (Read her whole post here.) 

Photo "Portrait Of A Baby Sheep In The Farm" courtesy of
ponsulak at
 All afternoon, I've been reminded of an expression I read in the Old Testament somewhere and I knew I had to go look it up. It was a blessing that Moses pronounced on the tribe of Benjamin (which means 'Son of my right hand').  I found it in Deuteronomy 33:12 - "May the beloved of the Lord dwell in security by Him, who shields him all the day, and he dwells between His shoulders."

The picture of God's beloved one dwelling between God's shoulders has stayed with me for a long time ... for the place between His shoulders is His heart. The place of resting close to (or in) His heart takes me to Isaiah 40:11(b) - "In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom..." 

Jesus often used the metaphor of sheep to refer to His followers and He used the contrast between sheep and goats to talk about believers and unbelievers. Though related, sheep and goats are completely different species [and even if a sheep acts like a goat, it's still a sheep. (Just saying.)] Sheep respond to being led... or carried. Goats must be DRIVEN, forced to go where the goat-herd wants them to go. 

Once, we were spiritual goats. We needed to be externally motivated (i.e., given a good swift smack) to behave ourselves. Then we heard the Good News. The Shepherd had given His life for His sheep and offered to make us into new creations. Yes... sheep. A total species change. Only He had the power to do it, and once done, it was done for good. To the uttermost! There was nothing we could do to earn it; He did it all. And there is nothing we can do to keep it. He does the keeping. We have no strength? No problem. He picks us up and carries us between His shoulders, in His heart.

Because He loves us.


  1. Thanks Judy, good words as always, love it. Keep writing, by now you know that many "believers" don't believe it!

  2. Unfortunately, yes Stephen. But regardless, abounding Grace is still "good news" whether folks believe it or not. :)