Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Essence of Grace

My husband took early retirement this spring from an international company. The travel had become a point of stress for our family and God provided the means for him to farm full-time. As we have adjusted to a new lifestyle, there have been many points of giving where we had not given before and taking in altered ways.

As I read the account of Ruth and Boaz once again, the pictures were much more vivid. I was more aware of the back-straining work it must have been to glean a wheat field by hand; of the danger Ruth would have subjected herself to as a new, single, foreign woman in a workplace dominated by men. Then, when Boaz extended himself to her that first day he offered himself for her protection and his means for her provision. "...and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left."

The beauty of his generosity was the fullness of another word: grace. Grace is extended from the one who has much to the one who has less. Boaz served Ruth out of his much. She was satisfied, and there was more to spare. I was struck by the not so profound thought that to give grace, one must have more than what he/she needs. In other words, I can only extend grace to others when I have an excess. In this adjustment to a new life and a new routine, I can only extend patience and kindness when I have more than I need. Knowing my limitations, I will not have an excess until I am depending on God to meet my many areas of shortcoming. Only He can provide excessive patience, excessive lovingkindness, excessive thoughtfulness, excessive peace, excessive joy....

Once again I opened the refreshing writing of Angela Thomas Guffey in her book, Tender Mercy for a Mother's Soul. The whole of the book centers on grace, on God's gift of so much more.... Let me leave you with a taste of God's grace from Angela's pen,

"Can you hear this? No matter what your feelings of worth before the Father, He loves you now and forever. Grace is the forgiving, redeeming, and pursuing love of God for us. Grace has nothing to do with the things you do or who you are on this earth. The extravagant gift of God's grace comes to us only because we belong to God.
"That is what makes it so extravagant; we can not earn it, and yet we so desperately need it.
"We cannot make God give us more, because He freely gives us all.
"We cannot fall beyond the reach of God's grace, and we cannot grow past our profound need.
"We cannot understand the mind of God, so we do not completely comprehend a love that is without boundary or limit. We are awed to know that we can turn away or run away, but God is always, and eternally, still in love with us.
"Because of His mercy, we have the privilege of living in this abundance of grace. Some people spend their whole lives striving and searching. others accumulate accolades and things. But we are most blessed, because the divine grace of God has come to us.
"He is here, and by His grace, we can rest.
"He is here, and by His grace, we can live.
"He is here, and by His grace, we are free." (p. 126)

Today, may we flourish in the grace of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, even as we shower those around us with that same grace.

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