I watched a video this morning from a beautiful writer for whom I have great admiration. She’s offering an online course in writing and I’ve literally been lapping up all the information like a kitten starved for milk. Every video, post, piece….I read and watch ravenously. I’ve been very sick for a couple weeks with pneumonia though and have been sleeping a lot. The past couple of days I’ve been pushing my stamina a bit, trying to build strength back from a place of deep depletion. After a short trip to the grocery I came home and collapsed on the couch with the laptop to catch up on my instruction.
Her words rang loud and crisp and clear – “Always leave your reader with practical application.” She spoke of hungry readers and the duty to feed them with substance and good nutrition on a beautiful plate with polished silver. While I see great truth in her words and frankly, they are not new words for me to hear, I wanted to throw up. So. Much. Pressure.
I shut my laptop and thought, “Well, I’m done then. I have no words of substance. I have no lovely platters. I don’t even own silver.”
And then I took a nap.
When I woke an hour later I reached for my Step Study books. Pneumonia had left me behind on homework and I don’t like to be behind in anything…especially Step Study.
Lesson 19: Grace
“‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.’ So I’m very happy to brag about my weakness. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I’m weak, then I am truly strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Part of living in grace is forgiving others. Part of living in grace is forgiving myself. Loving myself. Believing that I am loved by God so much that he not only offers me forgiveness for my sins but that he offers gifts, talents, and beautiful platters. If I can accept God’s forgiveness then why is it so hard to believe that he would also give other good things? Why do I wallow in the weakness, not seeing the strong arms passing me silver?
I said earlier this month that I want my focus word this year to be “fierce grace” and here is God saying, “Yep. It really does apply to you. I am enough and I’ll give you enough.”
I put so much pressure on myself to be everything for everyone and when I can’t be the best – the prime rib on the beautiful platter – I tend to shut up shop and go home. I have lived with the belief that it is better to not try than to disappoint and give fluff. This is not living in grace. That is not what fierce grace looks like at all. That is certainly not trusting that my Heavenly Father has good plans for me and wants me to use my gifts to bring him glory.
“Come. Let’s talk some more about this matter,” says the Lord. “Even though your sins are bright red, they will be as white as snow. Even though they are deep red, they will be white like wool. But you have to be willing to change and obey me. If you are, you will eat the best food that grows on the land. You must obey me. You must obey me.” (Isaiah 1:18-20)
Pressing into the gifts God gives us brings him glory. Shutting down gifts God has given us because we feel they aren’t as good as our perception of the gifts he’s given others slaps him in the face.
I have a gift for communication. It is a passion of mine and I love it. People claim to enjoy my methods of communication. I have a responsibility to learn more about communicating. I must practice. I must learn. I must hone in on what would make me a better communicator in speech, writing. dancing….okay, not dancing. Dancing is not my gift. But the rest, yes. When I communicate, especially about God’s love and grace, it brings glory to his kingdom.
When I look at fabulous speakers like Lysa Terkeurst, Jen Hatmaker, or Shauna Niequist I am tempted to say, “I’ll never be that good. They have said all the words. They’ve reached all the people. I should curl up and quit.” The gremlins in my ear tell me to throw my laptop away and never communicate again.
Then there are the gremlins that like to remind me of all my sins. The time I gossiped, the ugly words I said that time, the stupid text I sent to the wrong person and hurt her feelings….how could I ever be a person who communicates truth when I’m such a screw up? I should throw my laptop and my phone away. I suck at communication.
This is the exact opposite of fierce grace. Not embracing God’s goodness, comparing myself to others, not forgiving myself…it’s ugly. It’s so very ugly.
I think this is where the practical application comes in.
“After you have borne these sufferings a very little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to share his eternal splendor through Christ, will himself make you whole and secure and strong.” (1 Peter 5:10)
This is the point where I got on my knees and asked for forgiveness. I asked God to forgive me for shirking my calling and for comparing my gifts. I asked him to give me the strength to shut out the gremlins that whisper lies. I asked him to help me forgive myself for the wrongs I have committed and asked him to stir in the hearts of people I have asked forgiveness from and have yet to give it. I want to give grace to others and to myself. I want to live in the grace he has given me. I want to do it with fierceness.
I want this for you too, dear reader. God gives us ALL good things. We all have a platter and silver with which we can serve the Kingdom. Your platter and my platter probably look completely different. How boring would it be if they all looked the same? Let’s press into where he’s leading us. Let’s lean on forgiveness – both to give and to receive. Let’s revel in who He has created us to be. Let’s get out our silver and use it!