“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me.” “For by grace are ye saved…” (Ephesians 2:*) We all need grace desperately, whether we realize that fact or not. But what IS it, really?
GIVE ME GRACE
“Grace is generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved” – divine favor, love, and mercy. Divine grace is supernatural and comes from God – it is strength given to withstand hardships, inspires virtuous reactions to situations or people; it operates to regenerate us, and reaches down to save us in our darkest hour.
So, generally before I need to do something I am dreading or even just apprehensive about, I will pray these words – “Oh God, please give me grace.” And what I am asking for is the ability to endure whatever it is I am dreading. It’s that simple. Just give me grace to get through! Except in only getting through, we miss what God COULD do within the realms of our dread and apprehension. It is almost like picturing grace as a vacuum cleaner with attachments. The vacuum works perfectly well as is, and all on its own, BUT if you access the various attachments you can go in deeper and more through, producing an epic clean (and shine) to your home. It is like going to a whole new level far above just a surface clean. THIS is the grace available to us from God.
THRIVE NOT JUST SURVIVE
My friend offered to pray for me about a situation I had told her about, requiring some extra heavenly assistance. Her prayer was for God to give me “grace to flourish”. The words really struck me. It has made me stop and really think about grace.
I always pictured grace like a life raft or a life preserver that God tosses to us and we hang on for dear life. I still think that. I have clung to it my whole life. But God’s intent is not just for us to barely make it out alive. No. I now understand that He gives us grace that we might FLOURISH afterwards. What would that look like…..
“We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive;
We were made to thrive.
Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible.”
(Casting Crowns – “Thrive”)
Having sung this song many times, I did not realize that thrive means FLOURISH. Just a little extra nod from heaven here.
THE ABILITY TO THRIVE
To thrive is to flourish, prosper, and bloom. So, God offers us His grace to not only take a deep breath and do the hard thing, but then to flourish, prosper, and BLOOM in it. This changes everything for me. All my begging for grace to get by, to fix my millions of bludgeons and to enable me to just keep going, God was also offering me SO much more.
So, the question again begs for an answer now – what does this look like? For me, it looks like my facing my deepest, darkest fear and suffocating anxiety. God grants me the grace to do that each and every day. But now I understand it doesn’t stop there. I get to actually face that fear head on, slay that fear, and grow a tree smack in the middle of all its dirt. Grace is the single greatest gift God offers us. First, as we all know – to save us from our sins, but also to save us from ourselves. My fear was consuming me and stunting my ability to grow and blossom. I was just getting by. Getting by was great – I needed heavenly help just to do THAT. But, now? Now I am using the other attachments that grace offers to me. I am getting my soul shine on, and I am walking in this grace that says I am MORE than just a survivor.
MADE FOR MORE
“Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We never will run dry
So living water flowing through
God, we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls with one desire
Just to know You and to make You known.”
(Casting Crowns – “Thrive”)
“For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8) Now I can walk on in this amazing grace that indeed saved a wretch like me; now I can become that tree planted by the water, yielding FRUIT. Again, as the Casting Crown song says -“It’s time for us to more than just survive; We were made to thrive.”
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