My first week in the Dominican has flown by, but it's been an amazing week. The group that was here from Alabama was great, and really made the start of my summer that much more enjoyable.
I've really found that God has made himself very evident over the past week, especially while we were at the leper colony. While we were there, I felt as though I had an amazing glimpse into the grace of God that is available to each and every one of us.
Recently I have been reading a book by Brennen Manning entitled "The Ragamuffin Gospel." It strives to explain to the reader what God's grace means to us and how he accepts us as the ragamuffins that we are. While I'm only half way through the book, it has already made a huge impact on my life, especially my time at the leper colony, and I would highly suggest reading it.
The first time I went to the leper colony over spring break, one of the things that hit me was that these were the people that Christ spent his time with. He spent time with them, showed them they weren't outcasts, and that they were loved and accepted and healed. When we went this Thursday, I remembered what I learned over spring break and was able to connect it to what I've been reading in "The Ragamuffin Gospel." I saw that these people who had leprosy understood what it was to fully rely on God and to fully accept his grace. Their lives were shining examples of the joy that this brings. Despite the physical sickness that they have, they greeted us with smiles and shared in a time of praise and worship. The joy that they were sharing with the entire group that was visiting made me question if they were truly sick at all.
In Mark 2:17 Jesus say "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." This verse really opened my eyes to what was happening around me. It made me realize that despite my physical health, I am still sick, and I still need healing, and the only one able to give me that healing is Christ.
One of the hardest things for me in my life has been feeling as though I need to prove to God that I am worthy of his grace and worthy of being his follower. This defeats the purpose of cross, because in acting that way, I'm saying that Christ's death was not enough. That, somehow, I can do that extra something so that I will finally be worthy of what I've been offered all along. Brennen Manning uses a phrase throughout "The Ragamuffin Gospel" that says we need to "accept that we're accepted." It's one of the hardest things to do, because in our world, justice is carried out. We get what we deserve. When we screw up, there's a consequence. When we do good, there's a reward. However, that is not how grace works. In accepting that we are accept, we realize that in our broken state, in our sickness, we are loved, and there is nothing we have to do to earn that. We don't have to tools to heal our wounds. A band-aid doesn't suffice when stitches are needed, so why try? God's grace is there for all of us, all we have to do is accept it.