Day 4: Grace Lavished

…[God] chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

(from Ephesians chapter 1)

For most of Paul’s (wordy) letters, I have to read each sentence four or five times before I start to wrap my mind around all the prepositional phrases! Paul might be wordy but his writing is power-packed with fervor and passion and beautifully vibrant words.  I love imagining God lavishing the riches of His grace on me. What a beautiful picture– copious amounts of valuable treasure being poured on me, on us. That treasure is His grace. And that treasure takes away my sin, forgiving me fully and completely for all my bad thoughts, terrible attitudes, unkind words, bitterness, selfishness, envy, pride and any other sin that I have ever (or will ever) entertain/ed.

Grace, grace, God's grace, 
	grace that will pardon and cleanse within; 
	grace, grace, God's grace, 
	grace that is greater than all our sin! 
(Text: Julia H. Johnston 
Music: Daniel B. Towner )

Day 3: What is Grace?

What is grace?

When asked to define grace my mind automatically answers, “unmerited favor”. I guess that was drilled deeply in there sometime during the thousands of Sundays and Wednesdays I have spent at church– plus summer camps and VBS growing up. I just know that’s the definition of the word.

When you pause and think through the definition, you might find that it’s simultaneously frustrating and freeing. “Unmerited” means undeserved or un-earned, so I can do nothing, NOTHING, to earn grace from God. It cannot be attained by my merit, or it would cease to be grace.

That’s the  most beautiful side of grace though, He gives it in spite of my unworthiness.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God… Ephesians 2:8

Day 1: Intro

Day 2: By Grace I Am

Day 2: By Grace I Am

Three years ago today I landed in my current home.

I distinctly remember standing at the baggage claim with Stinkbug (10 months old) in the Ergo and Ladybug (2 years old) in the stroller, and my earthly possessions stacked around me in 14 suitcases of varying shapes and sizes. The strange sounds of a foreign language floated around me, teasing me about my unavoidable (HARD!) future of language learning. Everything felt floaty– that out of body feeling that comes after a not restful night of sleep scrunched into an airplane seat, and a time change of seven hours. Jet lag.

Somehow we got all our bags into the van and got to the apartment where we would be living for a few months. We had some take-out chicken for dinner. I drank a Coke to pry my tired eyes open until a proper hour for bed. It all felt like a walking-dream.

That night as I crawled into a strange bed in a strange land, I opened Daily Light— a goodbye gift from some sweet sisters– and read 1 Corinthians 15:10, “…by the grace of God, I am what I am.”

Because of what my husband and I do for work– living overseas and seeking to share the gospel with people from another culture, we get a lot of undeserved praise. People sometimes act like we’re super spiritual beings… like we’ve arrived on some higher plane of enlightenment, or something crazy like that.

If these poor, misinformed souls only saw the inside of my heart, that would stop them dead in their tracks. If they saw the way I struggle with entitlement and jealousy… the absence of contentment a lot of my days and the fear of man constantly pulling me down. If they saw the bad attitudes I harbor so often and the judgments I hastily cast on others. If they knew how selfish I am all.the.time…

Believe me, I am not awesome. I am a stinking wretch. I only live here and do what we do by the grace of God. Like Paul writes to the Corinthians– IT’S ONLY BY GOD’S GRACE THAT I AM WHAT I AM! I am no better than anyone– most of the time I feel like the worst, most fallen human being on the planet. It’s only by grace that I am what I am.

There have been a lot of ups and downs these past three years. If anything, moving overseas has opened my eyes to how sinful I really am. With a lot of my comforts removed, there is nothing for that ugliness to hide behind, and I am in a constant battle against my flesh. Only by grace have we made it three years. Only by grace can we continue to do this. It is only by grace we are what we are.

Day 1: Intro

31 Days of… grace upon grace

For the next 30 days, I want to drink deeply of grace– live it, notice it, roll around in it, soak it up, breathe it, appreciate it.

The first chapter of the Gospel of John, is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. I love how John notes (in verse 16) that from the fullness of Jesus, we have all received grace upon grace. What does that mean? How can we have that much grace? Isn’t grace merely the free gift of salvation?

I plan to spend the month of October being baffled by the grace upon grace I have experienced personally. I want to revisit the definitions of words like “grace” and “truth” that are so familiar, I take them for granted. I want to marvel at the grace that was first bestowed upon me when Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and then became “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And then I want to stand back and fully appreciate the grace I experience over and over in my daily life– in my marriage, in my quiet times, in motherhood, in my family relationships, in my church, in my friendships… in everything.

I’m excited about the journey. I look forward to the reflection. I anticipate some change. I invite you along… Let’s explore grace upon grace this month!

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