Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Can I accept God's Grace?

Grace, it means 'favor,' from the Latin gratia. It connotes a free readiness. A free and ready favor. That's grace. It is one thing to choose to take the grace offered at the cross. ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p 18

I was thinking - wondering - this morning....I wondered if I struggle with gratitude because I am not sure of God's grace...for "me."

I wondered if I am more comfortable wallowing in a place of hurt and fear than I am of rising up and living as one filled with God's grace?

Yesterday I prepared the lesson for tomorrow's Lunch Bunch Bible Crash Course.  I'm beginning at the beginning...Genesis.  I wrote that all the wonders of God's creation and his creation of human kind, that within his creating of "me" he gave me free will.  Thus, it is MY choice to live with losses, and to still say "yes" to God.  It is my choice to say, "Yes" to what he freely gives.

Ummmm, does it frighten me to say "Yes" to such grace, to such love?

LOL...I just recalled Ann's image of a baby being born with tightly clenched hands....

On page 18, Ann shares thoughts of her brother-in-law, that being a farm girl myself resonate with my soul:
"Farmers, we think we control so much, do so much right to make a crop. And when you are farming you are faced with it every day. You control so little. Really. It's God who decides it all. Not us...It's all good." (AnnVoskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p 18)
Sunday, my congregation celebrated 180 years of ministry.  In some ways we threw a party, but only a few came....  I swallowed hard lumps of disappointment most of the day.  And, as I swallowed that disappointment RATHER than celebrating those who were there...
1. My physical pain became nearly excruciating by evening.
2. My sadness turned into a "Was it me???"
3. My disappointment turned into fear...What have I done wrong?

Yes, I know what is beneath all this "stuff" is my EGO.

Instead of depending on God, I'm taking responsibility and making decisions for what others.

Instead of celebrating the gift of faithful people, I focused on scarcity.

I chose to head down a dark path when God was beside, beneath, within, among...and I missed his glory reflected in all that was around me.

Ann shares her brother-in-law's story of burying two babies in an eighteen month period.  Recalling the conversation, Ann recalls her own response to the tragedy:
"If it were up to me...I'd write this story differently." (Ibid)
If I had written Sunday's story, we would have had to move the chairs from the Parlor in order to have seating available for an overflow crowd. I had written Sunday's story, people would have been standing in the kitchen with full plates because the tables were full. If I had...

Ann's brother-in-law held her words and then responded, saying:
"I don't know why this has happened, but do I have to?....Just that maybe...maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds." (Voskamp, p 21) often have I said there is a reason I am not writing the story of this world and of her creation! I don't know how it all works out, I cannot see where it all leads and what it all means. 

Then Ann reminds me of the Exodus story, telling once again how the Israelites ate manna for forty long years.  Manna, which means 'What is it?'

Hungry, they chose to gather up that which was baffling. They filled on that which had no meaning. More than 14,600 days they took their daily nourishment from that which they did not understand. They found soul-filling in the inexplicable. 

"They eat the mystery.

Ann writes of buried babies and broken, weeping fathers over graves, and a world pocked with pain, and all the mysteries she has refused to let nourish her.  She asks:

"If it were my daughter, my son? Would I really choose the manna? (Voskamp, p 22)

The losses, disappointments, the fears, the sadnesses...  I "know" in my head these are opportunities for me to see God.  You know, those holes that occur within my life... Now, if I can continue striving to express and learn to live gratitude during times when life is easier....I might be better equipped to trust God and express gratitude when the holes in life appear.

As Joyce Rupp encouraged me to understand in The Cup of Life, I will live a fuller life when I allow God to empty me without my digging in my heals. Ha! An ongoing work!!

Ann concludes Chapter 1, writing:
To fully live - to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly.I now see and testify.So this story - my story.A dare to an emptier, fuller life. (Voskamp, p 23)
As I approach one of the busiest times of the church year and family life, I so suspect I need this dare!  While I may know these truths in my head, through the power of the Holy Spirit, may I live my talk!

Just A Prayer Away....

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. Ouch, the 'digging in the heels' hits a nerve. ;) Very thought provoking... thank you. blessings ~ tanna

  2. The service, music, dinner, fellowship, focus was great on Sunday. May you exercise your "free will" that I love so much (hee hee) to live within God's grace that it is His timing to work in the hearts of others. Know the message you give encourages others to live within that grace that only He can give and live a life with Christ at the center and not to the side. You are a blessing. I do not think it is a coincidence that the readings keep going back to being emptied, so that we can be filled. May I hold this thought as I go about my day.