From the album Scarce (2006)

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(CGCGCC)
As I grow older, some recurring thoughts and concerns continue to bubble to the surface as I review my personal history and look into the future, like any historian might do. The past few years I have become aware of my frustration with the roots I set down in the early years I spent as a new Christian growing up in a fairly conservative church. I am eternally grateful to those men and women who invested in my life during that formative time but I have found myself increasingly wanting to shed some of the guilt, shame and works-related mentality – all more than likely self-induced – to which I acquiesced during those years of feeding on milk. It was very much a “hate the sin, but love the sinner” atmosphere, and at the time I went along with it, but now it makes little to no sense to me for it seems like an attempt to distinguish our fallen Christ-following selves from the rest of humanity’s fallen selves. Apart from the grace of God we are all weaving our lives throughout the same story. To separate Sin from man is like pretending it is possible to separate ink from the page it has marked. It can be washed, wadded up and ripped apart, but the possibility of expunging ink from paper is an exercise in futility. In this scenario, we are said paper while ink is the mangling and the poetry we manage to make of our lives. And were it not for the love of God, the paper we write our lives upon would continue to grow more and more cluttered, tattered and soiled since our attempts at cleaning it and rewriting it ourselves results only in a withered, flimsy page held together by disjointed strands of tape, string or stapling. Instead, because of God’s favoring grace, the page is a new one whenever we need and request it – a blank slate, in so few words. It is this quality of being human before we put on the air of holiness to which I aim the topic of the song and is, in larger part, the backbone of the entire album.In her excellent book, The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris comments that in an effort to be effective in the world, we Christians “try to be holy without being human first.” In other words, we put up the pretense of having our proverbial acts together for fear of admitting instead that we are, in reality, far from such a pleasing state. I think that is what is referred to as pride. As the eldest of three children, I grew up being very hard on myself and did so even more when I decided one day to try and love Jesus in return. Deep down I knew my incapability, but I constantly tried to measure up to perfection, or at least what I thought it should look like, and to rid myself of all the stumbling blocks, baggage and tripwires in my life. To say that my failures continually frustrated me is an understatement of grave proportions. Without getting into the psychological nuances of my formative years, my hope as a songwriter has always been to encourage you, whoever you may be, wherever you may be, to give yourself a break and to allow grace to be sufficient for you. I fully realize that stating this grand idea is one thing, but doing it quite another endeavour altogether. Deep in my heart, I want so badly to measure up, to finally get it all right. In essence, I want to beat God at his own game. This, also, is pride.

We give ourselves such a hard time in life. Borrowing a quote from the movie, Contact, “We are capable of such beautiful dreams , yet such horrible nightmares.” I don’t pretend to know what humanity looks like through God’s eyes, but I imagine there’s far more compassion and delighted forgiveness in them than we suppose.

Lyrics

Save Something For Grace
(Eric Peters)

midnight at the stroke of noon
when the lights go down
and it’s you against you
quiet eyes in a blaze of shame
like a beast of burden
you could never tame

we try to be holy without being human first

save something for grace
she’s raising the sky
save something for faith
there’s hope still in her eyes
save something for grace

hopeless one, can’t you see
past your bitter heart
because you mean the world to me
the moonlight’s never been so near
you came into this world
with a ransom for your fears

we try to be holy without being human first

save something for grace
she’s raising the sky
save something for faith
there’s hope still in her eyes
save something for grace

we live as though mercy were frail
and forgiveness merely a tale
we condemn ourselves to a fault
when we fail, when we fall
we’re only human after all