I Found Grace in my Closet

Today I was seeking my way in a new year, finding my spiritual footing for 2016.  The holiday activities are over, the world is returning to its regular routines.  I was grumpy for no discernible reason.  Our holidays were filled with moments that I will hold tight to my heart always, with people I love dearly.  No holiday season is perfect and we had a moment that startled both my husband and I in its less than grateful or joyous nature.  I’ve been turning it over in my head and my heart, trying to find a way to let it go.  Last night, I prayed that God would share with me an answer.  “Show me2016 what to do with this so I am not dragging its remnants into this new year.”

Today, I was looking for an online daily devotion site, particularly looking for one with an evening devotion.  There are many.  I was looking for one that grabbed my attention and really made me think.  The more I looked, the grumpier I got, because nothing was exactly what I wanted.  It was a dressing room sensation when you’re shopping for clothes but nothing fits or looks like what you’re shopping for.

I did what I often do after a frustrating shopping trip.  I went to my own closet.  I have a favorite website for spirituality growth called Spirituality and Practice.  Link to the website here.  Each day they post a spiritual practice, reading, quote and teacher of the day.  I still love this site, I was just looking for something in addition to it.  There, in my own spiritual closet, was God, serving up my answered prayer.

Today’s quote was “The universe does not suffer from a shortage of grace. . . . Grace is abundant in God’s universe.  — Matthew Fox in A New Reformation.  

It made me ask what others thought grace was.  I did what we all do, I Googled.  The answers were plentiful.

“The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God.”  ~  J. Gresham Machen

“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.”  ~John Stott

“Grace is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it.”  ~Paul Stahl

God's Grace

God provides us grace, despite our flawed nature.  His grace does not come to us after we behave well.  It just comes to us.  He doesn’t take our moments of ingratitude or lack of joy personally.  He has no expectations and delivers us heaps of grace anyway.

I find myself right back in my own closet, learning again what I have taught thousands of others – the meaning of QTIP – Quit Taking It Personally.  Others lack of gratitude and joy is not about me.  It is theirs.  How can I hold onto to something that isn’t even mine?

Basking in the grace of God, who loves me despite my many flaws, I have released my expectations.  I will put those whom I expected to display gratitude and joy in a tender hold of prayer and love.

I found the cure for my grumpies – a dose of grace.people said amen

Thank you, God, for speaking in ways we can hear and showing up in the most unlikely places.  Amen.

 

 

Quilts

By Chris Cairo

My wife quilts. She has made each of our sons, and our nieces, quilts when they graduated high school, so they would have something to remind them of home when they went off to college.

I was reminded of quilts as my plane took off from the Minot ND airport recently. The farmland around Minot looks like one gigantic quilt; a patchwork of acres put together by farmers. Made by man.

Aerial view of Pennsylvania farmland --Photo courtesy of US Dept. of Agriculture

Aerial view of Pennsylvania farmland –Photo courtesy of US Dept. of Agriculture

But it doesn’t t take me long to remember, and realize, that the beauty of nature comes from God. Man tills the land and plants the seeds that grow into crops to feed others. But God created the first seeds. God created rain, and sunlight, without which crops could not grow.

Too often we think we accomplished something all by ourselves. We consider ourselves ‘self made’ men and women. But we forget that EVERYTHING comes from the Lord.

When I have a crisis of faith (and they do happen periodically), I look at nature, and walk backwards….that tree came from a seed, that God created, watered by rain that God created, nurtured by sunlight that God created….nature’s complexity, for me, is a constant reminder that we are not a random combination of atoms, but the work, the creation, of God.

There is no other explanation.

Reminds me, once again, of my favorite bible verse: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

You only have to pause, be still, and look at nature to be reminded of His presence.

 

Easter member Chris Cairo wrote the above reflection as part of his special ministry to college students and others, in which he writes to them on a monthly basis to encourage their faith to thrive in their daily lives.

Ash Wednesday: Grace Ribbons

Hey Easter Praise! readers,

Today is Ash Wednesday and hopefully you are making your way over to church sometime today to pray with others in our faith community. (See schedule at www.easter.org.)

Lent 2015--what does God desire - CopyLent is simply a word that means “springtime.” I think it’s safe to say that many of us in northern areas grow weary at the end of the winter with the drab skies, wearing heavy clothes, and icky looking March snow-on-the-ground.

Christians who lived centuries ago may have also been running out of food (no frozen or canned foods back then) or heat (firewood) by the end of winter. Their animals may have died from the extreme cold (no meat or milk if all animals died).

In our souls, we also long for something more. While it’s true we have been saved by faith in Christ, there’s always more to learn as a follower of Jesus, more ways we can serve others, more ways to conform our lives to Christ. Through the ups and downs of life, the Holy Spirit showers grace upon us, to draw us ever-closer into deeper communion with Christ and each other.

Speaking of grace, have you seen Pastor Kris’ new blog post about Ash Wednesday and the ribbon of grace running through our entire lives?  I suggest you take a look at her blog I’m Into Grace.

ashes_to_ashes_0

May the good Lord bless you as we prepare for 40 days to celebrate the awesome wonder of Christ’s Resurrection.