Happy New Year! I have noticed with each passing year that I have gotten better at breathing in God's grace. As I grow older, and one hopes I have gained more wisdom, I struggle less with the notion that God is somehow disappointed in me. I was a tried and true perfectionist who attempted to not sin or disappoint God. Every time I messed up, I would heap guilt upon my head and feel like a failure. This is not living how God would want me to live!
It's taken a lifetime for Romans 8:1 to sink in (and I am still a work in progress): Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. One translation of the word "condemnation" is disappointment. Note that the verse does not say, "there is now less condemnation" or "there is now a little bit of condemnation". No, it says, "There is now no condemnation...no disappointment. There is only grace.
God wants us to exchange our guilt for His grace! Go ahead and breathe it in!
When I was a little girl, I liked to collect rocks and stones. Even a glimpse of everyday quartz was enough to catch my eye and deem a rock worthy of being picked up and stashed in my pocket. On my walk home from elementary school, my friends and I passed by Gracie's store. It was a little Mom & Pop grocery store with a penny candy counter and tucked way in the back of the store was a glass counter that held the most beautiful gemstones. I always had to make my way back there and marvel at the amazing crystals buried within what seemed to be ordinary rocks.
I would work hard to save up my money and on special occasions like Mother's Day or my mom's birthday I would pick out and purchase the rock that I thought my mother would love best. Amethyst was one of my favorites, so I skipped all the way home the day I was going to bestow this gorgeous purple-hued rock upon my mother. (Just what every mom wants).
One day, when I was an adult with children, my mom showed me the collection of "rocks" I had given her over the years (both purchased and found). She knew they were gifts from the heart.
Giving rocks and stones is one thing, but there are stones that are not so pretty - the ones we throw at others in judgment. I like to think that I am a gracious person, but am I really? How quickly do I get annoyed at the person in front of me in the check out line at the grocery store who has 50 coupons (half of them expired or with special conditions) that requires the manager to be called over? How quickly do I lose my cool with the customer service representative that I've called with a question or problem that isn't getting resolved? How did my young children learn to call out, "You idiot" to other drivers on the highways and byways?
On a sideboard in my kitchen I have a little plaque that says "Grace". Beside it is a smooth coal colored stone with these words on it: "He that is without sin among you let him cast the first stone." (Jesus Christ)
God pours out His grace like rain on me...and then what do I do with it? Do I pass it on or do I measure out judgment? God has put it on my heart for me to truly try to walk in another man or woman's shoes before I make hasty judgments. They are people too - with lives and "to do" lists and frustrations all their own.
If I want to be a directional arrow pointing people toward Jesus...I need to act a little more like Him.
That being said, I have chosen the word "GRACE" as my watch word for 2015 (last year I picked "INTENTIONAL"). As I am learning, with more success, to breathe in God's grace, I also want to grow in measuring it out as well. Tall order, but with God all things are possible.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:24)
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)
Lord, I thank you for the merciful grace that you not only give, but lavish upon me. Enable me to excel in the act of giving grace to others. Let 2015 be the year I consistently measure out grace. Amen.
What is your watch word for 2015? Would you share? If you've never chosen one before, would you consider praying for God to reveal to you what He wants to build in you this year? I pray so...and let us be transformed together!
In His love,
ps. Know that if you are reading my blog that you are being lifted up in prayer every morning and every evening. That is my commitment to you...be blessed.
I will report next week on the great things happening at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan.