Stabilizing the Rhythm of Our Hearts in Grace

So, my birthday was yesterday and hopefully, as you read this, I’ll be camping alongside the Big Five animals in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Africa. I hope to return un-scathed, but we’ll see how it all turns out. This will be my 39thyear of life and when I think about all that God has given me, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude. I’ve had rich experiences in different lands, cultures and cuisines. I’ve made dear friends around the world. I have a job that gives me daily opportunities to love and guide children. I have a family that is loving and supportive. God has undeniably lavished His goodness on me.

I bring up my birthday because I think as I get older, I reminisce…a lot. I think about the journey that God has taken me on, the tapestry he is weaving, the story He has written, and one of the biggest chapters in this story is about His grace. 

There’s something about rhythm that is so satisfying. From a very early age, some are able to recognize a beat, and some even able sync to a rhythm by bopping up and down. Rhythm is all around us – our hearts are beating, the birds are chirping, the stars are pulsing. All of creation is part of an orchestra praising its Creator from dusk ‘til dawn. Today, I pray we stabilize the rhythm of our hearts with God’s as we reminisce about the grace that has changed us, share the grace that has been given us, and lavish grace on others that has been lavished on us. 

Changed Because of Grace

“All of grace is my story…” is the opening lyric to an old song that I grew up with, and I have been singing it for weeks as I’ve been meditating on this topic. My heart and eyes swell with emotion as I consider what my life would be without Jesus. Can we just stop for a moment and ask ourselves, “where would I be without grace?” 

Really stop. 

Really think. Reminisce on the grace that seized your heart.

My heart resonates with Paul as he says in I Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” And, again in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” The grace of God, manifested in His son, Jesus, bought redemption for you and me and as a result, we have unmerited favor for all of eternity! C.H. Spurgeon says it so well, “[T]here is nothing in us or done by us at any stage of our earthly development because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only ‘when we believe,’ it is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live… It is always, on His ‘blood and righteousness’ alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place or that take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace.”  

It was Grace that sent Jesus, Grace that bought our redemption, Grace that sealed our adoption, and Grace that secures our inheritance, and it may it ever be the song upon our lips, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

Grace, Because We’re Changed

Do you know the story in the bible about the servant who owed his master a ton of money? It is written that the servant begged his master to forgive him of the enormous debt he owed. Moved with compassion, the master forgave every cent of that debt. Imagine the feeling! What if the bank that holds your mortgage, student loans, car loan, and credit cards called you today and said, “We’ve forgiven your debt; you don’t need to pay one more dime.”? What relief! What joy! What gratitude you would feel! The story doesn’t end there, though. That same servant returned to his home and found one of his own servants who owed him pennies compared to the debt he had just been released of. He demanded his servant pay in full what was owed and threw him in prison when the servant said he could not pay him. 

So unbelievable, this man who had been forgiven so much, yet would not forgive so little. Yet, how often do we find ourselves living self-centered lives, hoarding the grace that was given to us? In his letter to the church at Colossi, Paul writes, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

I think so often of the opportunities from God that we miss to be grace to those around us. There is a song by Meredith Andrews called, “Spirit of the Living God.” One of the lines says, “When You speak, when You move, it changes us, it changes what we see and what we seek.” It really is impossible to not be changed when you encounter grace. 

Grace not only changes us, but because of this change, we become a conduit of grace to others. One of my dearest friends has taught me so much about being grace to those around us. She doesn’t do it in huge ways; she takes time to make eye contact with the cashier, she always gives to the homeless vendor selling a paper on the side of the road, she leaves tips – great tips – no matter how the service was. She quietly ministers with grace and spreads love all around her city. She lives out what Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Oh, Father, gives us hearts full of grace. Change what we see and what we seek.

Grace upon Grace

Those who know me well, know that one of my favorite phrases is grace upon grace. It comes from John 1:16. Just when we think we’ve given enough grace, we realize that we should give so much more. Why? Because of the grace that was lavished on us.

How is your heart today? 

Are you full of anxiety? 

Grace upon grace.

Are you heavy with the weight of depression? 

Grace upon grace.

Are you eaten up with bitterness from past hurt? 

Grace upon grace.

Are you prone to see the negative in any situation?

Grace upon grace.

Are you quick to judge others choices? 

Grace upon grace.

Are you finding that you haven’t forgiven someone even when you’ve been forgiven of so much? 

Grace upon grace.

I would like to close with a story of how God is working this out in my life right now. Most of you know I live in China. This is my eleventh year here, and I absolutely love it. There’s one thing, however, that I don’t love about being here; in fact, it was so damaging to me the first several years I was here, I talked it through with my counselor before I moved back to China a few years ago. Here’s the thing: I’m significantly larger than the average Chinese person, and when they see me, they look me up and down, gasp, and make all sorts of comments about my size. Imagine how wonderful that makes me feel about myself. After several years of these kinds of reactions, I stopped making eye contact with Chinese people. I found myself diverting my eyes every time someone passed by. It was the only way I could protect myself from the hurt I’d feel multiple times a day. A few months ago, the Holy Spirit started nudging me to look into their eyes. I really couldn’t believe what He was asking me to do, and I really didn’t want to obey. One day, I was walking around a busy shopping center and He said, “Look at their eyes. Let them look at yours.” I quietly responded in my heart, “But, they hurt me.” He said, “I know, but they need to see my love through your eyes.” Tears rolled down my face right there in the middle of the store. Grace…upon…grace.

What if we lived like we really understood this grace? What if our hearts were so in sync with King of Glory and of Grace that we saw people and circumstances the way He sees them? I think it’s possible. 

Daughters of the King, spend time with Him in His Word. Listen to His still, small voice. Be changed by His amazing grace, and be grace – even more grace – to those around you. 

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