"The comedy of grace is that it so often comes to us as loss, sorrow, and foul-smelling waste; if it came as gain, gladness and sweetly scented flowers, we would not be grateful. We would, as we are wont to do, take personal credit for the unwarranted gifts of God. It is easy to be attracted to the idea of grace - which one dictionary defines as 'divine love and protection bestowed freely on people' - but much harder to recognize this grace when it comes as pain and unwelcome change. In the depths of our confusion and anger, we ask: 'How can this be God's love? Where is God in this disaster?' For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn't know we needed, take us to places where we didn't want to go. As we stumble through the crazily altered landscape of our lives, we find that God is enjoying our attention as never before. And maybe that's the point." Kathleen Norris from Acedia and Meand another....
"The fruit we are given is not always what we want or expect; it may even be bitter, but we are secure in knowing that it is given to us out of love. The capacity for trust that begins in such ordinary human encounters, as between a mother and a child, can come to have deep ... significance, not only for ourselves, but for the whole community of faith. As we come to know a God of limitless compassion, [a God who] makes oranges, and life itself "new every morning" we can find great mercy even in the midst of lamentation." (also Kathleen Norris, on seeing her young niece's reaction to the gift of an orange)This life can be crazy and confusing, emotionally overwhelming and unbearably sad. It is full of anger, apathy, meanness, and ugliness in many, many forms. Some days it feels like too much. I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way.
But then, God shows me...
-through a timely email from a friend for whom our simple prayer for restful sleep in the midst of a trying circumstance was graciously, abundantly answered with the felt peace and presence of God and a good night's sleep.
-through the sun on the trees, bright and clear this cool morning
-through the laughter of my boys, their hugs and teasing
-through the faithful, tender, thoughtful love of my husband
-through the sweet greetings of family and friends near and far
-through a long, beautifully written, precious letter from a dear one I've never met in person
-through quiet minutes to read and think
-through the pressing on and looking up of one who has walked through mental illness, job changes, financial hardship, and more and keeps on pointing to the glories of Christ, and who always makes me laugh and smile
-through a sweet baby trying to say Gramma, feeding herself with a spoon, and pushing her doll
-through chimney swifts darting and dipping over a pond in the morning and a great blue heron perched on a beaver dam, through the colors of berries and the roughness of an elm leaf
-through a happy family time on a glorious fall day
-through His word, read on the porch, in the early morning
...through all these and more, He shows me that His grace, which comes in so many forms, never stops flowing. It is like manna - daily grace.
He shows me that hope in Him is the anchor that holds me fast in the times when grace feels sweet and the times it feels severe.
He shows me that I have an inheritance, for the future, yes...but one in which I can live right now. An inheritance of grace, not earning.
He shows me the fullness of His steadfast love and bids me walk in it.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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 2:4-10
Through [Jesus] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. - Romans 5:2