Tag Archives: Grace

Grace I Don’t Deserve

School is back in session now. While driving past Ramsey Elementary School this morning on my way to work, I thought about a blog post I wrote several months ago. Here’s a portion of that post.

     I was traveling to work one morning, lost in deep thought about my 9 a.m. appointment. I liked the lady I was scheduled to see. She was a devoted mom, actively involved in church volunteer work, and I found her quirky sense of humor refreshing. But, she was also in deep pain. She couldn’t seem to find freedom in a difficult, often toxic, relationship. “Lord, help me see what I need to know about this precious woman’s heart,” I prayed while driving to the office.

     I was only a few blocks away from the church when I glanced in the rear view mirror and noticed the unmistakable flashing blue lights following me. A quick glance around at the empty street convinced me those lights were meant for me. At the next cross street, I turned, parked the car, all the while wondering whatever was wrong.

     The handsome young police officer (HYPO) exited his patrol car. The conversation that morning between the police officer and me went something like this:

HYPO: “Morning, mam. Do you have any idea why I’m stopping you?”

Me: “I’m sorry, officer, but I don’t have a clue.”

HYPO: “I didn’t think so.”

Me: Perplexed as I handed over my up-to-date driver’s license, registration and proof-of-insurance card.

HYPO: “Thanks, mam. You remember those flashing yellow lights by Ramsey School back there?”

Me (gulping): “I’m sorry, officer, but I don’t.”

HYPO: “I didn’t think so. You sailed right on past me.”

Me: “Oh, my goodness. I am SO sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. [At this point—rather wisely, I believe—I decided it wouldn’t be prudent to explain I wasn’t paying attention because I was praying for my 9:00 appointment!!]

HYPO returns to his patrol car. I assume he’s checking my record for any criminal activity.

Me: I’m feeling confident he’d find none!

HYPO, sauntering back to my vehicle: “Well, mam, I’m not going to give you a ticket today, but in the future, you need to be more careful when driving through school zones.”

Me: “Thank you so much! I know I deserve a ticket, and I assure you I will be more careful in the future.”

HYPO: “You do that, mam. Now have a good day!”

     After taking a couple minutes to catch my breath and return the documents to their rightful locations, I began thinking about my interaction with the nice young police officer. He had every legal right—plus the authority—to give me a ticket for exceeding the 25 mph speed limit through a school zone when the yellow light is flashing.

     Instead, the officer acted with grace and showed me mercy.

     I know I may be running a risk here of over-spiritualizing a ticket for driving too quickly through a school zone, but as I finished my short commute to work that morning, I couldn’t help but believe once again, grace had found me! My encounter with the HYPO was an apt illustration of God’s grace.

     There have been many times in my journey of faith when I realized God had every right to deal harshly with me, and God had the authority to do so. But, that wasn’t the heart of God.

     Instead, God acted with grace and showed me mercy.

     I still drive past that school several times each week, and I never fail to watch for flashing yellow lights. My decision isn’t because I’m afraid my luck ran out. I’m not fearful of being caught, forced to pay a big fine and run the risk of insurance premiums being raised.

     The experience of receiving the HYPO’s grace motivates me to pay attention and reduce my speed because I realize the law behind those flashing yellow lights is intended to protect little children—to ensure safety.

     Likewise, the experience of receiving God’s grace motivates me to consider more carefully my behavioral choices because I believe sincerely God’s ways are meant to protect me and those I love. God’s direction is intended for my wellbeing. There may be times when I suffer painful consequences because of my choices, but even when that happens, I believe beyond any doubt

Grace is being given a great gift I really don’t deserve.

Prayer:

Thank you, God, for the really good gift of grace you’ve shown me even when I know I’m undeserving. Help me become an ever-increasingly gracious woman. Please keep teaching me how to extend your grace to those whose lives intersect with mine. And, Lord, I ask you to show your good grace to each person reading today’s post. Amen

May you be blessed with God’s good grace!

Sue Reeve

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Difficult Grace Transformed…

Sue’s Note: Earlier this year I wrote several blog posts about grace. The January 8th post was entitled, “Difficult Grace…” Today’s post includes excerpts from that entry as well as a section called, “The Rest of this Story.”

     The medical report my family doctor gave me sent chills up my spine.

     The research I set about to do on reputable Internet medical sites added to the foreboding.

     The specialist I saw was very nice, very professional but also very straight about potential possibilities.

     I tossed and turned through several sleep-deprived nights.

     And, then…

      I determined I was going to dig in my heels of faith and trust God—no matter what the outcome of my medical condition might be.

     I resolved to discuss the situation with no one but my husband—and, of course, God. I talked to God A LOT about it.

               I poured out my fears.

                    I requested God give what I felt certain would be the best outcome.

                         I asked for strength to accept any outcome.

                              I searched the Bible for verses to bolster my faith.

                                   I reminded God—as if God needs reminding—about what seemed to be biblical promises.

     After almost three months of extensive—and expensive—testing, I re-visited the specialist.

     The medical report he gave me resulted in a huge sigh of relief. There seemed to be nothing to worry about—at least for the present. “We’ll monitor the situation yearly,” the doc instructed with cautious optimism.

     The doctor’s office was only a 10 minute drive from home. I was thanking God for His good grace when my ears perked up by something a radio minister was saying on the Christian station to which the car’s radio was tuned. I don’t know what program was on nor do I know who was speaking—I didn’t normally listen to that station—but the words I heard landed with tremendous impact.

     “Sometimes God’s best grace is difficult grace,” the speaker said.

     Difficult grace! Is that what I’d experienced for nearly three months? Yes, those months through which I’d traveled were difficult—really difficult! Yet, along the way, my chilled spine developed into stronger spiritual backbone. Instead of scrambling for pity from others—my typical go-to behavior—I was empowered to stand firm with only the support of my husband and my God. After an intense immersion in prayer and Scripture, I emerged a more faith-filled woman.

     During that difficult time, I experienced:

           Grace that distilled dread into determination.

                Grace that taught me I can trust truly a truly trustworthy God.

                     Grace that fueled fear into faith.

                          Grace that subdued scary thoughts and sleepless nights.

      To be perfectly honest, I prefer the kind of grace that paves a pleasant path. Yet, when I look back at this experience, I realize I learned valuable lessons.

  • No matter how difficult, I will receive strength needed to keep moving forward.
  • An unseen, but real, guide goes before me.
  • Peace is possible even when problems seem impossible.
  • Difficult grace is designed to build my faith.
  • Even during life’s most difficult moments, grace will find me!

The Rest of this Story…

      This past week I had my third yearly visit with the specialist. He came into the office where I was waiting, shaking his head slowly. “I’ve never seen this before!” The doctor explained the diagnostic test done three weeks ago was within normal range. He said this was the first time he’d ever seen anyone with my condition who had a normal test range.

      One additional test was done in the office. That too was normal. We joked about me being a “boring” patient. I told the doctor, where my relationship with him was concerned, I like being “boring.” He agreed boring was good. Then he cautioned me not to forget about him completely, adding, “But, I don’t think we need to see each other for two more years!”

      So, what was my response to this good report supposed to be?

      Smugness that I’d finally figured out how to get God to answer my prayers and grace to work in my favor?

          Yikes! I hope not!

      Guilt because of all the precious people out there who ask and ask God to answer their prayers, and an answer doesn’t come?

          No, guilt isn’t necessary. It’s okay for me to rejoice in this good gift from my Heavenly Father.

      Entitlement to instruct others in the “right” way to exercise their faith?

           “Please, Lord! Help me to NEVER do that!”

      I believe the answer to my question can be found in these words spoken by Jesus:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

     And, so, I conclude: my response to divinely imparted grace is to love God more and more and to allow that love to be translated increasingly into greater love for others.

     Whether you’re in a season of happiness or a season of difficulty, my prayer for you is that you’ll be able to see the gracious imprint of God’s grace in whatever this day brings…

Sue Reeve

 

Woven by Grace

by Sue Reeve

     “Ding!” The cell phone reminded me a personal Facebook message awaited. I recognized the picture of Mary, a lady I knew only casually. She reads my blog on Facebook, and I always appreciate her “Likes.” Mary messaged me to say she enjoyed the blog and wondered if I ever spoke.

     Here’s the truth about writing and speaking. I am much more comfortable sitting behind my computer typing thoughts from my heart than I am standing before a group sharing those same thoughts. I feel ‘safe’ in my cozy home office. I don’t worry about whether my hair is fixed, whether I’ve applied makeup or even if I’m still wearing comfy pajama pants. Since I don’t know who’ll be reading what I write, I don’t wonder often if my words will be accepted. I know my primary purpose in writing is to point my readers to a never-changing God in our always-changing world, and I know God—who without a doubt loves me unconditionally—is pleased more by my obedience than with my ability.

     Frankly, I don’t feel quite so confident when standing in front of an audience.

     In spite of this, I told Mary I’d love to speak to a group of 40-50 women of all ages during their church’s women’s spring event. The theme, “Woven by Grace,” excited me. If you’ve been reading Listening on the Journey for any length of time, you know I absolutely love the topic of grace. I am the recipient of so much grace from God, and whenever I have the opportunity to encourage anyone to take a journey into God’s grace, I do so eagerly, feeling both humbled and privileged. Here’s the gist of what I had to say to this group of precious women on May 10th.

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     The writer in me desires to craft words accurately, and I often consult the dictionary for word meanings. Here’s what I found when I looked up the words: Woven, By and Grace.

     Woven – to be formed by combining various elements or details into a connected whole.

     By – as a means of conveyance.

     Grace – a demonstration of favor, especially by a superior.

     These individual words cause me to conclude that every single event, every element and every detail of our lives move us toward demonstrating God’s loving and masterful design.

     One of my most prized possessions is a tallit—or prayer shawl—handwoven especially for me by my friend, Anni. Each individual silk strand was taken in Anni’s skillful hand and placed on a wooden loom. Every aspect of the tallit is intentional. Each different color, each hand-tied knot has special meaning.

     I’ve draped the tallit over this small table to remind you and me we are being woven with favor into the woman God designed us to be.

     I bought this wooden sign displayed on the tallit at our local Farmer’s Market last summer. Its message resonated truth the moment I saw it:

The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.

     The grace God weaves into our lives is done with utmost intention. Each event, element and detail is woven with precision and purpose. Our poor choices may cause a design flaw or delay, but even those, when taken in the skillful hand of the Divine Weaver, become part of God’s masterpieces—you and me. The very thought of this astonishes me.

     My friend, Terry, whose communication skills I admire a lot, told me to have only three points in every talk, so tonight, I’d like to talk about three ways God’s grace is woven into our lives:

     1) God’s grace is woven into our insecurities;

     2) God’s grace is woven into our insufficiencies; and finally,

     3) God’s grace is woven into our incredible potential.

     In the next Listening on the Journey blog post, I’ll talk about how God’s grace is woven into our insecurities. Until then…

May you recognize the deep significance God is weaving into your life…

Sue Reeve

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The grace God weaves into our lives is done with utmost detail and intention. Each event, element and detail is woven with precision and purpose.