Last Sunday was my birthday. On the preceding Friday night, the family gathered to have my birthday party. We had pizza and cake, the usual birthday fare. Then they let me open my gifts. My 9 – almost 10-year old grandson Christopher proudly handed me a gift bag which contained his gift to me. I reached in a pulled out a book. I thanked him with a hug and started to put the bag aside to open the next gift. “Wait, there’s more, Mom,” my son told me. Surely enough, there were two more parts in the gift bag – two Christmas ornaments that Christopher had picked out for me by himself. I’d almost set aside the most cherished part of my gift.
Growing up in a Baptist church, I thought I had learned all there was about grace. After all it was preached regularly.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24
We receive our salvation through God’s grace. A favorite line used in teaching grace is “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. This is true but it doesn’t end there. Too often evangelicals tend to overlook the rest of the gifts God has for us in our “gift bag” called grace. But there is more. So very much more.
“That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:7
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.”1 Peter 5:10
These are just a few of the promises that are ours as part of our gift of grace. There is one in particular that I’m clinging to these days. One has become my prayer almost hourly.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Paul was talking about the thorn in the flesh he dealt with in his life. I too am learning to how to deal with a thorn in the flesh. It’s not a physical thorn (and Paul’s may not have been either) but it is a difficult situation. I’m having a hard time adjusting to my new job. It’s been a rough adjustment the past few months. I left a job that I’d enjoyed most of the time, and where I had considerable responsibilities and some authority. Then I was home, job hunting, and spending the better part of my days working on my writing pursuits. Now I have a job that I’m very thankful for, but it is very different from anything I’ve ever done before. I struggle every day. Not to mention the fact that I have almost no time for my writing.
Last week I was asking the Lord if I’d gotten it wrong and had taken a job too quickly or taken the wrong job. But the answer was clear. “My grace is sufficient”. God gives us grace to handle the hard things we face every day. He gives us grace to do what we don’t feel equipped to handle.
I’m also having to learn humility and am beginning to understand the connection between humility and grace. The greater part of my struggle with my new job is not the level of difficulty in learning a new job, but with the level of authority I have. Or I should say don’t have. I am learning how to be humble and take direction instead of giving direction. It’s a tough lesson but one God makes clear I am to learn.
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6
When I try to do it all in my own ability, I struggle and become frustrated. But when I submit to God, and allow his grace to flow through me, I can do all things.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 and “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13
Peace and Blessings to you all.