Leaning In to Grace
I’m sensing a theme lately. (That’s usually when God is trying to hammer something into my thick skull. I need to hear it a few times before it really sinks in, apparently…). He’s teaching me to lean into Him and His goodness without succumbing to my knee-jerk response of incessant striving to reciprocate. I tend to (consciously or not) try to pay Him back, as if that were even possible.
To a degree it’s natural to want to do nice things for people who do nice things for you, but reciprocity is also a conditioned response from our culture. In God’s economy, grace rules. And while I do believe we should “do good” and live and love out of a sense gratitude, we cannot repay God for grace.
Grace is a gift simply meant to be received. Grace is undeserved favor. It’s completely free; no strings attached; impossible to repay. Grace is what God’s goodness is; it’s what our salvation is; and it’s what favor and blessing are.
And this doesn’t just apply to things we receive along the way (life/years) it also includes everything we were born with: our talents (developed or not), any genetic blessings, any of our intellect, or education and status that we were born into or given access to. It’s our capacity for thought and excellence. It’s our ability to move and perform before we ever wiggle a finger or bat an eyelash.
We can take credit for nothing.
That job you have? The education you got? The hours you put in studying? The God who made you gave you the intellect and capacity to learn, and the focus and memory to retain the information. He gave you the eyes to see and read; the hands to type, hold the pen, play the instrument, dribble the ball; the feet to dance, drive the car, walk to the meeting, run the race… You get my point, I’m sure
All is grace! But that’s exactly why this is so difficult! We (I) tend to respond to these gifts by trying to be better, do more, be perfect…which is impossible and exhausting, and we (I) end up completely drained again when nothing was ever asked of us (me) to begin with.All of life is a gift, and a real gift is something that requires no reciprocity, only open hands and gratitude, if anything, but even gratitude isn’t a requirement because a true gift is unconditional. And I’m learning to rest, live and love in the freedom of that truth. I can give nothing back. I cannot repay it. I can do nothing at all but receive it. It’s humbling to say the least.
I’ll say it again: all is grace, all is a gift.
We didn’t and cannot do anything to deserve anything because they were never gifts intended for our own personal gain or glory. God gave us the abilities and desires and experiences in life to enjoy, but more so, He gave them to us to be used as tools for His purpose through us for HIS glory. Because it’s not about us at all. It’s all about HIM; His glory! It’s His story.
So, in humble gratitude for every good thing or experience (and every bad thing or experience) that’s shaped the person I am and who I’m becoming, I am overwhelmed every time I re-realize this. This revelation is all the more reason to rest, love, and live in joyful freedom; and it’s available to anyone and everyone willing to simply receive it. That is my hope for you.
Thank you, Jesus, for grace!
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” — 1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” — Ephesians 2:8-10
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” — Psalms 139:1-18 ESV (King David’s words to God)
YOUR TURN: What is your experience with grace? Do you tend to try to reciprocate or have you learned how to simply and gratefully receive? What is your response to reading Psalm 139? Tell me in the comments below, and feel free to email me thoughts, questions or prayer requests using the contact form here. (Don’t worry, it goes straight to my personal email inbox. XO – Rachel Elizabeth)