My prayer partner sent me an e-mail this morning. I’d let her know I’d caught a stomach bug this week and her response was, “Just remember to extend yourself grace … I’m just worried you push yourself too hard sometimes.”
It’s true and I love her for keeping me accountable. When I felt this sickness coming on, my first response was panic. How am I going to get everything done? I don’t have time to be sick! I have a schedule to keep! Just keep powering through it!
And then, that word showed up. Grace. And it was like a breath of fresh air, flooding my body with peace as I breathed it in.
I love choosing a focus every year. Some people choose one word or a phrase, and some just stick with resolutions.
I like to choose a line from a hymn.
I started praying about what the common thread for my 2017 should be in about October and this is the line from “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” that has come up in my thoughts and prayers time and time again.
Tune my heart to sing thy grace.
Tune My Heart
Even though I have been a Christian now for over 15 years, accepting God’s grace is still new for me. I’ve spent years teaching myself to expect more, aim for perfection, and behave good enough to feel like I had done something to earn His great love for me. If I could just be good enough, kind enough, patient enough, then I would be deserving of calling myself a Christian.
But I had it all wrong.
The problem is, no matter how good or perfect my behavior is, there is no possible way to earn unconditional love. That’s not how it works. That defies its very nature!
If I could be perfect all on my own, what need would I have for a Savior?
Good behavior is not what makes us Christians, Christ is.
And there is a big heart change in shifting from our idea of a God who constantly wags His finger at our shortcomings to a God who sees every bit of our weaknesses, choosing to come alongside us and whisper, My grace is sufficient.
When you’re tuning an instrument, you have to keep playing the note again and again, even when it sounds terrible, until you find that sweet spot when the sound is just as it should be, the perfect pitch. That is how I hope to approach my weaknesses and shortcomings this year, not giving up until I find amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
I am not a bold person. I am a peacemaker, creating harmony wherever I possibly can. I don’t typically like to draw attention to myself and I most definitely do not like to create any controversy or conflict. That means when I have a differing opinion than
you, unless I know you very well, I will probably keep it to myself.
But I am finding my voice. Not one I use to get into political debates or fruitless arguments with the intent of being right, but a voice that boldly speaks His grace to people in my life.
We live in a world that constantly screams the message, “You are not good enough!” through magazines, television, books, and advertisements. They try to convince you that you want more, that you need more. Your house isn’t big enough, your abs aren’t defined enough, your kids aren’t polite enough, and you are not busy enough.
The only way to break through that noise and stop your mind from filling with those lies is by combatting them with God’s truth – no, you aren’t enough, but He is, and He is everything you need.
Grace is the unmerited favor from God toward man, one of the most beautiful gifts He offers us. There are no prerequisites, it cannot be earned, it is not something I could ever do for myself, and it is something freely offered…but I haven’t been accepting it.
There is so much freedom in allowing the Lord into those broken places we so desperately try to keep hidden. I keep trying to live on my own power, while all the while, He is offering a balm to soothe everything bringing me pain.
This year, I want to get better at accepting. Accepting that I am flawed, accepting my dependence on a Savior, accepting help, accepting forgiveness to the fullest, accepting His boundless grace.
Do you have a word, phrase, or verse you are focusing on this year?
How has grace affected your life?