Breathing in, I am free.
Breathing out, I pour out love and grace.
So then, don’t let sin rule your body, so that you do what it wants. Don’t offer parts of your body to sin, to be used as weapons to do wrong. Instead, present yourselves to God as people who have been brought back to life from the dead, and offer all the parts of your body to God to be used as weapons to do right. Sin will have no power over you, because you aren’t under Law but under grace.
In 1935, Bill Wilson created his famous Twelve Steps recovery program with a peculiar premise — that we are powerless over our destructive behavior and cannot make ourselves well again. What? Wouldn't a recovering addict want to conquer harmful behavior? On the contrary, Wilson understood that struggling to overpower harmful behavior only makes things worse when we inevitably fail to be perfectly good. In fact, admitting their powerlessness finally gave people the freedom to offer themselves grace, leading millions to recovery!
Paul knew something similar, and in Romans 6 he pleads with us to see that sin loses power when we stop fighting to follow the law and we fall into God’s unlimited grace. Ultimately, freedom from sin means freedom from believing that we can somehow get it perfectly right.
Begin to make friends with the fact that you will screw up, lie to your parents, be greedy with your money, hurt your best friend, pollute God’s earth, and fall silent in the face of injustice. That peculiar grace will heal you and set you free to love.
Healing God, I am powerless over my harmful actions, and I just can’t get it right. Instill in me your peculiar grace, so that I heap compassion and forgiveness on myself instead of shame and judgment. Heal me with that grace, that I may heal my friends, family, community, and world. Amen.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.
from “I Shall Be Released” by Bob Dylan, 1967