Level Ground

Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace. ~ Philip Yancey 

I was slow to believe in the level ground concept.

For most of my life my thinking was something like this: I’m not perfect but at least I’m not like ______. I may sin (you know, just the small stuff) but I would never ______.

I lived a fill-in-the-blank spirituality. As long as I could find a sin worse than my sin, my sin didn’t really need grace, it just needed a good excuse.

Mixed in with my self-righteousness were days of self-recrimination when I felt hopelessly less than. That was equally un-level ground sloping in the opposite direction.

Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace.

When I finally found my footing, grace became both my comfort and my counsel.

I learned that I need grace.

And I learned that no one has ever needed it more than me.

That’s level ground.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

22 thoughts on “Level Ground”

  1. Thanks Deb,
    We are all of us in need of daily grace and all the more because we continually fall into the sin of comparison and self-justification. I have always found that when I stand proudly before the altar saying “Thank God I am not like…” That is the moment my largest stumbles begin. Oh how I need Jesus and ever shall.

    1. dearest deb-
      As I was praying for you tonight, the words to an old hymn keep coming to mind:

      He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
      He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
      To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
      To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

      His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
      His power no boundary known unto men;
      For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
      He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

  2. I had a similar spirituality to yours, Debbie–and it didn’t work real well for me. Now I’m drowning in HIS grace, daily–and have no need or desire to learn how to swim on my own anymore. HIS love/grace are intoxicating–the only way to fly. And HIS safety net–well, it gets a good and regular workout, as I’m subject to frequent slips. God bless you BIG today, and always–love, sis Caddo (Cj)

    1. Oh Caddo –
      I can just picture you bouncing up and down in that safety net of grace like a hire-wire acrobat. You take chances and sometimes you fall, but you bounce back and climb right back up the ladder!
      You are something else and I mean that in every good way! 😀

  3. Thanks for sharing, Dear Debbie

    “I learned that I need grace.

    And I learned that no one has ever needed it more than me.”


    I can’t help but think each time I visit your place. Thanks for pressing my thinking button! I’m glad I learned that I needed grace, as much as the next guy. And that I was no better, no less, than any other sinner…. And I’m glad I also learned I don’t need to grovel. Ask, He says, and I will receive. Didn’t always receive/believe/accept!

    Thankful for Your grace, Lord!


  4. I loved your post. My early “training” was heavily laced with all the indictments we could hurl at those outside our church walls for how sinful “they” were. So it was quite a shock to discover at age 34 that I had no idea what life was about. My need for grace was greater than ever. But what I really did not expect was how relieved I was to be on the receiving end of grace instead of trying to force myself to live as if I didn’t need it!

    1. Hello dear Susie –
      I love this quote from Yancey. I think it’s all leveled out and then someone says something surprisingly mean or the most unexpected thing happens and I realize that I’m still measuring out grace by merit. May He lead us both!

  5. I agree with Debby. I love seeing a post from you. I know your internet is troublesome and you are trying to figure out what to do with TMOG. Write me an email some time.

    BTW, yep, i get the “fill-in-the-blank” safety net thing; or the Sin Rating Machine. I still struggle with perfection. While the shame of disease (especially disease that is considered a “weakness disease”) you tend to judge your soul quite harshly. I’d still like to dump that “shame bucket” once and for all.

    Hope you’re doing OK. I bet your weather has been nasty!

    1. Hello Mel –
      I think I wrote this the day after I proclaimed to you on FB that I wasn’t going to blog anymore! ;D
      Shows what I know…
      Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t keep doing some maintenance on their ‘Sin Rating Machine’. If only we’d dismantle them instead of keeping tabs on others – and, as you said – punishing ourselves.
      I pray for an empty bucket for you, my friend.

      We have a rattlesnake head in a bucket but that’s a different story.
      We’re south of the worst of the weather – mostly just relentless wind and caliche in your teeth – and heat – right at 100 (almost) every day already.

      1. Oh man! Caliche teeth! Poetic, yet REALLY nasty. As for temp., Chicago turned from weird (wear your sweaters one day, and shorts the next) to hot/humid (where have all these really pale people been hiding) overnight. It’s pouring outside and the room temp is exactly the same as the temp outside. It’s a creepy feeling! I guess it’s summer/construction season here?

        Oregon keeps popping into my head :-); or Seattle, Denver (all good).

        As far as posting and the blog, i know you are a devoted writer. You just shocked me a little when you said you were thinking of stopping for awhile. A break is not a bad thing; trust me. I was able to hunker down and focus on some other stuff.

        Anyway, here’s to simply keeping cool and staying well; and keeping the focus on our own salvation. No more bingo cards! Your Mel, Angel-Debbie!

    1. Debby –
      I think you have to get it to give it and just when I think I’ve kind of gotten it, something pops up and I don’t give grace as completely as I’d hoped I would by now.
      It’s a journey we take together, my friend. 😀

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