Grace – the Perfect Gift

We have just finished a season of giving – and receiving. As I get older (I just celebrated my 71st birthday) my focus is less and less on “stuff” for presents and more on giving “experiences”.

This desire has backfired recently. Our daughter told me her son said “Nana always gives us a present, then we don’t get to do it”

Full disclosure – So, three years ago we scheduled NASCAR Go-Cart rides for all the grandkids but had to cancel because some family members had COVID and some couldn’t travel because of COVID. (we did get to ride go-carts together this summer – just two and one-half years later) Then last year we planned to go snow tubing – but it was raining so we all went to an indoors play center with trampolines, games, and simulated rides. This year we again planned to go snow tubing but it was 14 degrees and everyone felt that it was TOO cold. That is when our grandson made the above statement. For children a delayed experience may seem like it never happens. (we ended up giving them money – a last resort)

This got me thinking about receiving God’s grace. It is clearly a gift, scripture mentions that fact repeatedly. Grace is unmerited favor and God gives us grace – not because we have

  • earned it
  • deserved it
  • paid for it
  • said the correct words
  • worn the correct clothes
  • served the poor
  • prayed enough

You get the idea. NOTHING I do can merit God’s matchless, unconditional grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says –

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,

it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

God’s grace is a gift.

His grace keeps on giving.

Unlike Nana’s gifts that sometimes change at the last minute or are delayed because of weather, God’s gift of grace is eternal. It never expires or is canceled. It is never late or misplaced.

God’s grace is the perfect gift.

Just as God has extended His grace to us, may we extend His grace to others this year.

Blessings in the New Year – 2023!

We did get in snow tubing on December 29th. It was cold, but not 14 degrees!

Thankful for Grace

Taking time to be thankful is an important task in maintaining spiritual health. It takes us away from “navel gazing”, focusing on what we lack, think is missing, or what we desire for ourselves, to thinking in a broader sense about all that has been given to us.

Much of what has been given to us we haven’t earned and, truth be told, we don’t deserve.

I think this is especially important in the climate of our current culture. So much of the discourse is negative, divisive, polarizing and unkind. The focus often seems to be on “what is best for me”.

My oldest friend (not in age but in years of friendship) Carol and I just returned from visiting our mothers who live in the same retirement community in Wheaton where we both grew up. Carol’s mother just turned 90, and my mother will be 90 in May.

Driving the 648 miles each way together gave us plenty of time to talk. (not hard for either of us!)

We talked about what God had been putting on each of our hearts recently. Carol is being impressed to practice the presence of God, sparked by a rereading of the book of that name by Brother Andrew. She feels that she needs to recognize every opportunity during the day to mediate or pray. Carol’s days are often filled with family responsibilities, yet she also realized that time slips away each day that could be used to sense God’s presence.

Instead of fretting over waiting in line, or delays in traffic, turning one’s attention to God and what He might want to impress her with, she wants to adjust her outlook on daily interruptions. Instead of becoming stressed and resentful, Carol desires to be thankful and aware of God’s presence.

Carol’s thoughts helped me refocus on something I need to do as well.

I shared that I was being impressed to practice GRACE. I realized I was being critical. My criticism was mainly directed toward people I think are critical. Critical of critical people. Really?! How hypocritical!

Grace.

I shared with Carol that as I realized how sinful my critical attitude was, I also realized the answer was – grace. I don’t know the real motives of why people do what they do. Their motivation might be a deep hurt or a lack of understanding.

God has given me SO MUCH grace. The older I get the more I realize how amazing that grace is! Just like the song says…..”Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”….

So, as Thanksgiving comes this week, I want to focus on being thankful for these two insights, as well as my dear family and friends – and

  • the opportunity to practice the presence of God day by day
  • the grace of God that allows me to sense His great love, in spite of my sin, and extend that love to others.

May God bless us with truly thankful hearts.