Forgotten Grace

The grace of God is all around us. We have grown blind to it. We take it for granted or forget completely what God has done for us. Recently, while at a family gathering, God reminded me of His grace.

My cousin, Dennis, told me of a time when we were children. One summer his family came for a week-long visit. His dad planned to help my dad build a basement so he could expand our four room house.

Someone drove the older children in to town to swim. Dennis, being the only boy, went to the boys’ changing room alone while my sisters and his sisters went through the girl’s side. He changed quickly, raced out the door and jumped straight into the pool. Too late he realized it was over his head. He hadn’t learn to swim yet and he sank down below the surface of the water. No one saw him.

While struggling he saw the ladder that went below the water line. He grabbed it, worked his way up and dragged himself out of the pool. It was amazing he didn’t drown. He went back to the changing room, having had enough of “swimming”.

No one saw, no one helped. But I believe God was watching that day. God saw a little boy full of life jump into danger. God helped him make it over to the ladder and get out. He showed him grace.

My sister, Nancy, told us of a time she was with our Dad while he fished. There were long reeds near the shore of the lake that disguised where the water began. At one point my Dad saw that Nancy was missing. He happened to look down to see her hair floating on the water in the midst of the reeds. He grabbed her hair and pulled her out. God was watching that day too. He saw a little girl wander into water that was over her head. God caused my Dad to look around for her before it was too late. He showed her grace.

My cousin realized too late the danger he was in, but his eyes saw the ladder and he had faith enough to reach out and grab the only thing that could save him.

My sister realized too late that under the grass was water, not solid ground. She had sense enough to not fight against the strong arm of my Dad who pulled her to safety.

But there is a greater danger than drowning and physical death. We are all weighed down by the sin that will drown us. God sees and God has provided a way out of certain eternal death.

John 3:16 reminds us… “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, but grace is freely offered.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” Ephesians 2:8

Physical life, though precious, is but a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. God is extending grace to each of us. Don’t fight against His good hand. Don’t close your eyes to His offer of salvation. His Son has died so we could have life.  Just as it would have been certain death for my cousin to turn away from the ladder, it means certain death for us to turn away from Christ, our only hope.

How will you respond? Will you ignore the ladder? Will you fight against the strong arm?

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

 

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded sick and sore.

Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity love and pow’r.

I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms.

In the arms of my dear Savior, O, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome. God’s free bounty glorify;

True belief and true repentance, every grace that brings you nigh.

Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream.

All the fitness He requireth is to find your need of Him.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall.

If you tarry till you’re better; You will never come at all.

(by Joseph Hart 1759)

I should have included this song in my last post.  When my voice returns I will try and record an audio version to be added here.  There is a modern/new tune, but I prefer the old one.

 

Broken Things

I seem to accumulate broken things. Things I have purchased for next to nothing because they were broken. There is the ceramic tile of poppies that I bought while on vacation. I loved it from across the room and was delighted to find a price tag of $5.00 on it. It had two hairline cracks running through it, but they don’t show and I’m the only one who knows, (until now).

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There is the ancient rocker I picked up for $2 at an auction. The seat was shredded and it was missing one of the slats from the curved back, but I thought I could make it presentable again. I think the missing slat looks like it was part of the design and I have recovered the seat. It is one of my favorite chairs.

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There is another rocker with a missing seat that waits patiently in the basement for me to make it functional again. I mended the broken cross piece and gave it a fresh coat of paint.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know about my grandmother’s chair that I rescued from certain destruction. You can read about it here.

There are the wooden chairs with missing seats that I painted and have used year after year to put summer flowers in.IMG_0864_edited-1

 

My father’s violin had some cracks that needed repairing. When I took it to John Hawkins, a man skilled in such things, I also bought a violin for my son that John had saved from being thrown in the trash. A junior high boy had stepped on it in his haste to get somewhere quickly. It was basically in splinters, but he was determined to bring it back from the dead. My son played it until he outgrew it. Now it is waiting for his daughter to use once her fingers are big enough.

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We live in a society that throws things away. We want new and perfect. Fewer and fewer people repair things anymore.

Unfortunately our insisting on perfection spreads to not just things, but circumstances and people.

We want the perfect job, perfect church, perfect house, perfect parents, perfect husband, perfect children, and perfect friends. It they aren’t perfect we look for a different one. What we fail to see in our search for perfection is the beauty that lies in the broken things. They are still useful, they have lived through hard circumstances, and the scars they have acquired make them more beautiful, not less.

Living through imperfect circumstances makes us better people. Living with difficult people makes us kinder. Living with things that need attention and care make us more thankful for what we have. Going to a church with other sinners reminds us of our own lack and makes us grateful that they don’t ask us to leave, since we are far from perfect, ourselves.

God uses these imperfect things in our lives to help knock off the things in our own lives that need sanding down. (Sandblasting might be a better term.) Thankfully he doesn’t just give us a coat of paint or some glue, He works on us from the inside out. He works on our very heart.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Did you catch that? “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We are all a work in progress. We don’t always like the “construction” that is going on, but it has a good purpose in our lives.

Remember that the next time you want to give up on someone who is difficult to be around. Give them the grace we have been given. Learn from them. Love them like our Father loves us. Treat them like the treasure they are.

“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” I John 4:32-5:1

 

You’re Going the Wrong Way!

This week I found myself going the wrong way on a one-way street. I realized my mistake almost immediately, but was committed to the path I was on. There was no way to turn around. I waited at the red light hoping it would turn quickly to green and I could navigate in the right direction before too many people noticed what I had done. Needless to say I got angry gestures, yelling and honked horns from three different cars who thought I must be the stupidest person alive. As I tried to remain calm and not make eye contact, I wanted to tell them…

“I know I am going the wrong way! It was a mistake! I’m trying to readjust my path!”

Even if I could have talked to them I don’t think it would have mattered. I had inconvenienced them and their plans. I was in their way. I was doing what they would NEVER do. I was going the wrong way on a one-way street.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. How often have I been critical of someone who has gotten on the wrong path? Do I draw attention to their error by blasting my spiritual horn at them? Do I take into account their circumstances before I give them a self-righteous talking to? Do I give them anything but the grace they might need? Just like I needed grace to get out of the one-way street. Often people who have gotten off track need the grace of those around them to readjust their path.

How much better to not draw attention to their sin, but rather pray privately for them. Looking for an opportunity to come along side. Not looking for an opportunity to spread gossip, but looking for an opportunity to tell them you understand, and that we all need grace from time to time, if not daily.

So the horn blowing and yelling I got this week was not in vain. Hopefully it made me a more gracious forgiver of those around me. Realizing that I need as much grace as they do. That time and again God has shown me more grace than I deserve.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:31-32

For further study: Look up the words – bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice.  Look up the words – kind, tender-hearted, forgiving. Which group of words most describes who I am? 

(This article was originally posted at Biblical Counseling for Women.)

Windows of Thy Grace

I’ve been overwhelmed with how difficult life is for many  people around me.

They are not dealing with one crisis, but many.

There are the car accidents, house fires, lost jobs, bankruptcy, court cases, prison terms.

There are the handicapped children, physical sickness, surgeries, cancer, deaths.

There are the prodigal children, substance abuse, adultery, broken families, abuses of every kind.

The list is endless, but in the midst of the dysfunction and  trouble I catch glimpses of God. He provides what is needed day by day, sometimes minute by minute. Those crumbs that sustain us through a barren land.IMG_0671_edited-1

Life will continue to be hard. We live in a fallen world that is getting worse not better. The sweetness in life comes from knowing this One who cares for our souls.  He has been there all along, caring for his sinful, wounded children. We catch glimpses if we take time to look.IMG_0673_edited-1

I ran across an old hymn by Isaac Watts that gives such a sweet picture of God. Oh that I would look through the windows of His Grace to catch a glimpse of Him.IMG_0674_edited-1

“I love the windows of thy grace. Through which my Lord is seen.

And long to meet my Saviour’s face, without a glass between.

O that the happy hour come, to change my faith to sight.

I shall behold my lord at home, in a diviner light.

Haste my beloved and remove, these interposing days.

Then shall my passions all be love, and all my pow’rs be praise.”

Isaac Watts 1674-1748