Monday, December 17, 2012

Thanksgiving at Christmastime

sometimes i lack the words for thanksgiving
because i feel like my heart is about to burst with joy over what He has given me
and i sound like a bit of a bumbling fool as i trip over my words and sentiments

other times, i lack the words for thanksgiving
because i can't see through the fog of my grumbling 
and recognize the evidence of grace in my life

sadly, i've spent more of this past year  in the latter scenario than i'd like to admit

but there have been glimpses sunshine poking through the clouds of my sin
and those moments were sheer grace, where the Lord reached through despite my attitude
and carried me, gently and patiently teaching me about who He is and who I am in Him

this morning was one of extreme thankfulness
for my baby girls, who can be such a challenge, but who are SUCH a joy and a blessing 
for my family and friends, who have gotten me through this tough year
for Jesus and His goodness and His grace and His provision His work in my heart and life
for truth and the gospel - literally, the good news
for forgiveness, 

there have been a few themes that the Lord has been hammering into my heart this year
grace is undoubtedly one of them
i thought i understood grace, and have always been thankful for it
but now, more than ever, i am learning just how amazing it is
i can't even put it into words

this excerpt from a sermon I was listening to over breakfast with the girlies this morning
puts into words a bit of what my heart and mind have been digesting over this past year

"here's the truth...God's grace does forgive you when you fail, but most of the time it's God's grace empowering you to be who you cannot be, to do what you cannot do, by a power you do not possess...the grace of God empowers you to be a new person. yes, God's grace is there to forgive you when you fail, but it's there BEFORE you fail - to change your heart, to change your mind, to change your desires, to reorient your course of life, to make you a different person, to give you meaning and value and purpose and pleasure:  that Jesus is with you, that Jesus is in you, that Jesus is for you that if you do fail, Jesus will forgive you. 
but because Jesus is with you, you don't have to say yes to sin, you can say yes to Jesus. you don't have to say yes to condemnation and guilt and shame and waking up and thinking, "is there any hope for me?" yes there is! and the hope is FOR you, it's not IN you, it's FOR you, IN CHRIST AND THE GRACE OF GOD....
so the Christian life is not something you live for God, it's something that God lives for you in Christ; it's something that Christ lives in you, it's something that Christ lives THROUGH you. and this leads to an explosive, passionate, joy-filled life - this is the best life of all: there's no shame or guilt or condemnation in it and there's eternity at the end of it."

is that not so awesome?!
notice, though, that the grace of God does not promise that life will be a walk in the park
because trust me, it won't be.  
in fact, the Bible warns us that we will face trials
but the Lord uses those trials to shape us and teach us and change us
for our good and for His glory

this is nothing new to me,
but apparently i needed a refresher course
or maybe there's a deeper truth that He's revealing to me through this
i don't know 
what i do know is that i can trust Him
and that i will fail
and that's ok
because even when i am faithless, He remains faithful
and He will sustain me.

and so i am thankful
choosing to be thankful is one of the ways i have gotten through some really dark and discouraging moments
i was once told to look for evidence of grace in life
because if you don't get into the practice of looking for it
you take it for granted and begin to grumble
so i try to be intentional about recognizing the goodness and grace that has been poured into my life
so that i can rejoice in all circumstances
and glorify Him in through doing so

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