Friday, July 25, 2008

Thankful Thursday: Abundant Grace

I know it's Friday. Again. And that makes this post "late." But what seems to happen is that I spend my Thursdays aware that it is the day I’ve decided to focus on gratitude. By evening, I have been reminded of many things I am thankful for. The last couple of times I've posted on this, that's been evident... my post has been a list, because choosing just one thing to write about has been too hard.

This week, though, I've been thinking about God's amazing grace, prompted by a Bible Study I'm completing with a friend. The book says that it will “help you make the connection between grace as a remote biblical concept and grace as a lifestyle – a reality you experience day in, day out.” That’s what drew me to this particular study: I was so compelled by the promise of experiencing God’s grace daily.

In the first chapter, we completed an exercise of “noticing” God’s presence and provision in our lives. As we shared our stories, we both commented that our hearts had been filled with gratitude to God, just as a result of completing the exercise. One of the things on my friend’s list was the daily light show we call sunset, because every time she observes one she is overwhelmed by its beauty. I, too, have been romanced by the sunset and the magical twilight hour. Once, I drove to the beach with some friends on the longest day of summer for the sole purpose of enjoying the sunset.

God probably did not plan that sunset, or today’s sunset, for my enjoyment. He no doubt had many other things in mind when He set the earth’s path around the sun. But He created it all, and each and every sunset is a reminder of who He is. It reminds me that He created day and night; hours for work and hours for sleep; seasons of warmth and coolness; of cold and sunshine and rain.
And though not planned just for me, it is right that when I observe His perfect creation, I praise and thank Him for the beauty it brings to my life.

On Wednesday, we discussed chapter two about grace for regrets and it was partly about confession. The spiritual exercise was to spend an hour or two working through a guided time of confession. I didn’t do it. I told my friend I wasn’t brave enough. I have been struggling with another of the first week’s lessons that spilled over into the topic of confession: God knows us intimately. The blessing of this is the knowledge that by someone else, I am understood. The downside is the knowledge that I have no secrets.

The scripture was from Psalm 32, where David writes that in the aftermath of sin he hid from God, but that in his silence, his “bones wasted away” and his “strength was sapped.” When he turned to God and confessed, he was forgiven and freed from guilt. How many times have I not confessed a sin, foolishly thinking that by not speaking of it, God wouldn’t know. How many times have I experienced the great blessing of erased guilt and restored rightness with God, a feeling so wonderful, so full of grace… that I wonder why I was so foolish? How many more times will I repeat this cycle, proving I am no wiser than the sheep to which God compares his beloved people?

In a few short hours of study and two discussions with my friend, I have been touched by grace. In fact, the hours of conversation on Wednesday have stayed with me these last two days, and have become a blessing of God to notice in this week. I feel as if I’ve just spent time wallowing in God’s goodness, and even now my heart is warmed by how real and powerful His grace is. Thank you, my friend, for walking this part of life’s journey with me.

I think the book is living up to expectations.

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