Growing with Grace

Forgive me for repeating myself. I am not fond of birthdays. The fear of disappointing my kids on their special day runs strong in me. The next birthday, though, is even worse. It is a reminder once again, that I am getting older. I don’t need a day to make that realization. All I have to do is look at my kids and see that is it true. At 21, 14, 13 and almost 7 x 2 (the twins), it is in my face regularly. Karissa was home for a long overdue visit this weekend and on the way back to her temporary “home” we were remarking at how big everyone was getting. Of my parents’ 9 grand kids, 2 of them are in high school with another 2 starting next September. Where has the time gone?

I was okay until it was time for me to leave Karissa. I ran into one of Karissa’s housemates and we started talking about the fact that Karissa has been away at school for half the twins life. It seems hard to believe. Arlynne has been gone that long also and I can’t imagine that they will have their whole life to forget her. They won’t remember her crazy games with Nathan that ended up with a trip to the ER for staples in his head. They won’t remember the feel of her hand when she walked them around the pumpkin patch the last fall that she was alive. Maybe it is easier for them. They don’t have the keen, stomach-churning sense of loss that can accompany thoughts of Arlynne. But I digress…

Pete heard a song on our local Christian radio station in August and he promptly went out and bought the CD. This CD has become my anthem. I feel that God has given me the word “grace” ever since Arlynne went to Heaven but I am sensing it even more strongly now. I had this album, “Your Grace Finds Me” by Matt Redman, playing in the truck on the way home. I was completely floored by it. I had heard it before. I have spent the last 12 days doing a daily reading written by Matt Redman on YouVersion about every song on the album. But today I suddenly had a realization of grace on the QEW (a highway in Southern Ontario) on the way home. I was completely overwhelmed, not only by the love of my Heavenly Father, but an overwhelming gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice. It says in Philippians 3:8-10 “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” I see God looking at us and seeing not us but the covering of righteousness that Jesus bought for us with His own life.

As I drove, I cried. And I cried out to God. I had been praying lately for more of a sense of Him. For Him to soften my heart with compassion for others. For me to get a better idea of what Jesus did for me. I got all those things and more on the QEW this morning. Every song on this album brought a fresh flow of tears as it was re-affirmed to me that we take grace for granted. I recently “discovered” an author named Brennan Manning. I have been blown away by his writings. His take on grace has awakened something in me. We get so accustomed to that word that we forget how precious it is. How we don’t deserve it. I guess that is part of my problem. In order to really comprehend it I have to look head-on at my own inadequacy. My own need. My own sinfulness. My heart can become so hardened by my belief that I am not that bad that I forget how much I need grace. How much I need My Father God. How much I need the righteousness that only Jesus could provide for me.

I am so thankful that God gives us grace so lavishly. I am so thankful that He will draw near to me when I ask Him to. I am thankful that He will change me when I am willing.

I may be getting older but I still have a lot to learn. But I have a good teacher so I’m okay with that.

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”
― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out