Tag Archives: grace

A Love Like This

A Love Like This

Monday Motivation

There is a dark, ugly truth about me. I struggle to love people who are different from me: the woman who wreaks of cigarette smoke; the mom in dirty sweats, yelling at her kids in the store; or the mom who can’t wait for her kids to go back to school so she can have time to herself again; even the child who has learned at an early age to manipulate anyone nice to him. Sure I can smile and extend my hand. I can play the part. But inside my heart is cringing. I don’t truly love them because of my own pride.

But here’s another dark truth. I struggle to love the well-dressed working mom who loves her kids, the woman really good at loving other kids, or the woman who is well-spoken and always seems to know what to say. These women are different than I am, too. And I struggle to love them because I fear them. I fear the ways they are better than me.

This is my ugly, dark reality. And I’m most aware of that ugliness when I read Romans 5, when I read about a God who loved a creation so utterly unlike Himself, His antithesis, His enemy. We are enemies of God, the complete opposite of all that He is, and yet He went to the ultimate lengths to love us and reconcile us.

And here’s the scariest reality I have to face: how can I really love God, who is most unlike me, if I can’t love people who, though different, are still so much like me?

I would be hopelessly lost in this miserable reality, if it were not for the grace in which I stand, the hope that does not put to shame. God’s love has been poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit. So when my human sinfulness cringes and pulls back, the Holy Spirit steps forward with a love that is not my own. And gradually, the smallness of my love is lost in the enormity of God’s love, so that when I smile and extend my hand to you, you who are different from me, I can say: God loves you, and I commit to loving you the way He loves.

More than Dirt

More than Dirt

Monday Motivation

I was praying with my son when the realization struck me. I was praying grace and encouragement to him when the Spirit spoke grace to my soul, too.

He was discouraged with the slow process of building character and of failing again. He was angry with himself. There were a lot of things I could have told him to take the pain away. But I knew that life is filled with moments of failure. I want him to know how to deal with those moments. “Don’t look down; look up! Don’t stay in your failure but look to grace and forgiveness.”

I explained how slow a growing garden can be, how all we see is dirt and it seems like nothing is happening—but below the soil, a lot is happening. Then, one day, almost when we least expect it, there is fruit. Character can take awhile to grow.

Then we prayed together, and I wanted to pray encouragement. So I thanked God that He knows our frame, that we are dust, just a pile of dirt. And yet, we are not just dirt. For in creation, the very breath of God gave life to that pile of dirt. Perhaps I was praying for my son, but I needed that refreshing truth.

I may be just a pile of dirt, but I’m also filled with the very life-giving, grace-filled breath of God.

…And then there’s grace

…And then there’s grace

Monday Motivation

I’m taking a brief break today from my Missional Mothering posts to write about a burden on my heart, a lesson I’m learning. But it’s a lesson that can totally apply to mothers, as I know so many who fight mommy-guilt and feel defeated as a wife and mother. Here’s a message of hope for you, a little grace for your journey.

We are all failures, missing the mark, falling short. Coping with that truth is grueling. On the one hand, it can haunt you, tainting all of your successes and polluting even life’s brighter moments. You can never move past it or live it down—an inescapable accusation, an unrelenting guilt.

Or, you can push that condemning voice far away and drive yourself to empty success. You can wear yourself out piling one accolade onto another, pushing to do more, to be better, to prove everyone wrong. It’s a fight, in reality, to expunge the guilt. But you can never do enough right to silence that sense of failing.

Most of us live in one of these two places, or we ricochet from one to the other. We punish ourselves over and over, or we battle to justify ourselves before God and others. But really, both stem from the same problem, a symptom of the same disease. We’re sinners, and we are all guilty. But the criminal cannot issue his own sentence, nor can he change the verdict.

But thank God there’s grace, the only way to truly silence that voice. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ.”  When the accusing voice whispers it’s poison, there’s grace to answer “it’s paid in full.” When the temptation comes to wear yourself out with sacrifice and good deeds in an effort to earn favor, there’s grace to say “it’s paid in full.”

Wherever you find yourself this morning, step out of the guilt cycle and step into Grace—forgiven, justified, set free!

God’s grace on “those days”

God’s grace on “those days”

Missional Mothering

It had been a hard day for my son. He seemed to stay in trouble and was having a very hard time getting along with his sister. After yet another trip back to the bedroom, he broke down in utter anger and frustration.

“I’m having a horrible day.” “I can’t do anything right.” “I’m a terrible boy.” And the Lord spoke to my heart. Didn’t I know exactly what he was feeling?

I held my little boy tightly, something I’ve learned calms his anger more than anything else, and then I quietly spoke to him.

We all have hard days, don’t we? There are days when the Lord allows us to see just how sinful we are, how helpless and inept. In me there is no good thing. But it’s also on those days that God’s goodness becomes so much more precious. His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, His gift of righteousness mean so much more on the days when I feel like a failure. I can wallow in my misery, or I can be grateful for God.

I named several character traits of God that were precious to me on those hard days and asked him to choose one that was precious to him. He chose mercy, and together we prayed and thanked God for mercy.

It was a moment that was a gift, taking what truly had been a rough day and turning it into such a beautiful memory, as only God’s grace can do.

Then, in the way that children have of definitively ending those beautiful moments, my son asked me, “Why aren’t you like this in the mornings? Kind and happy?”

Uh, oh. “Am I grumpy?” I asked.

“No, just sleepy,” he attempted.

Yeah, Mommy needs God’s grace, too—and she needs to finish that cup of coffee before the kids wake up.

Monday Motivation: Embracing Grace

Monday Motivation: Embracing Grace

Embracing Grace

Sometimes, I hold grace at arm’s length. I stuff it in my back pocket, or I bottle it up for later. “Thanks for grace, God. I’m sure I’ll need it soon.” And then I march into my day, forgetting all about grace until the moment when the day begins to unravel, and even then, I only check my back pocket to make sure it’s still there. I grab the strings and start tying knots in an attempt to stop the unraveling. It’s only when my day is totally out of control that I finally decide to make use of the grace I’ve been given.

I’m not sure why that is. I’m not sure if it’s arrogant independence, or if it’s a subconscious fear that I might run out of grace (so I better save it for emergencies). But sufficient grace means that it won’t run out, that I have enough for every moment. And not only is His grace sufficient, but then there’s that other promise, the one about His mercies being new every morning. Instead, I’m like a shipwrecked sailor, rationing my last drops of water until I’m at the point of death, never realizing that my life boat has coasted into fresh water.

 

Why do we ration a sufficient God? Why do we conserve mercies that are daily renewed?

My motivation this week is to embrace grace, to breathe it in deeply the moment my toes slip out from under the covers and touch the carpet, to take it out of my back pocket and use it, to test that sufficiency. And do you know what I’m going to find? A Strength that is more complete and more perfect every time I depend on it.

This post has been edited and republished from my former blog Homekeepers. Over the next several months, I will be merging my two blogs into this one location.