Waves of Grace
My husband underwent major back surgery this past year. That operation, and the difficult season following, became for me another journey of discovery—centered again around God’s grace. I’ve known that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we who believe have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand ((Romans 4:24–5:2 NIV). God’s empowering Presence is His gift to us (Ephesians 2:8). Heaven’s door is wide open. ‘The sky is the limit’; all things are possible.
I’ve received much from grace, experienced times when grace impacted me greatly. But trying to wrap my mind around a subject so vast, (not to mention trying to blog about it), feels like I’m dipping my little spoon into the ocean. There’s always another fresh wave of discovery on its way before I've grasped the previous one.
Bill’s surgery brought a wave of grace that caught me by surprise. I don’t know why this particular discovery impacted me so, but I've never been the same. Months into his slow and painful recovery, he fell—five times over a two-month period. Each fall set his recovery back even more.
Caregiving for me doesn’t come naturally. I don’t much care for blood and guts, and being at someone’s beck and call around the clock. So, it was a stretch for me. I also wasn’t mentally prepared to carry the full load of responsibilities and chores that come with living in the country. Or for the sudden loss of three of our five animals (indoor and outdoor) during that time. I realize others have it far worse, but I was wore out. My heart was overwhelmed and broken.
Neither does needing physical care come naturally for Bill. He’s always been strong physically, a take-charge person who gets things done. Watching me do everything was killing him.
Our roles had reversed. We were both thrust into a place of weakness, where the everyday grace we were used to walking in wasn’t enough to get us through. Our future seemed bleak. We needed something more. We needed more grace.
Had I not already made grace a matter of consideration and prayer, hopelessness and despair would’ve swallowed me up, sure as the world. Self-condemnation because of my poor attitude and defective caregiving skills would’ve drowned me. In Katie Souza’s book, Be Revived, she talks about the importance of us coming boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). In one of her chapters, she paints a great visual of heaven’s courtroom, from which ‘the judge of all the earth releases justice and mercy for His people, through His glorious grace’. That image in itself revolutionized my prayers.
But something else jumped out while studying that Hebrews passage. At God’s throne of grace, I noticed that we not only may receive mercy, but find grace. Mercy is ours when we confess our sins. The blood of our Savior pleads on our behalf; justice’s demands are satisfied. But find grace? Interesting. Find means to get, obtain, perceive, see. Perceive means to become aware or conscious of, come to realize, understand. In other words, there is more grace just waiting for us to discover and draw from.
So, every time I felt like I couldn’t make it one more minute—which I admit was often in the first few months of Bill’s recovery—I cried out for more grace. Some days that’s all I could pray.
And I found more grace. But there were no miracles, signs, or wonders like I was hoping for, was desperate for. No fanfare or open displays of grace poured out, no quick deliverance from our painful trials. I didn’t see grace sweep through, wasn’t even aware of its presence. In fact, grace came so quietly each time I reached the point of coming unglued, that I didn’t realize it had come until after those moments had passed. Grace had snuck in and worked miracles inside of me, bringing powerful effects and fruits of grace I had asked for. It left me in awe. I am still in awe.
Before then, my prayers for grace had most often centered around revival. I can easily pull up images of what it must’ve looked like after that initial outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. The church was a hopping place to be back then. Signs, wonders, deliverances, and healings were everyday occurrences as, with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33).
That same verse also says, great grace was upon them all. Because I’d lumped power and grace together in my mental picture gallery, I hadn’t given grace the acknowledgment it deserved. Just think how much grace it took for Christian brothers and sisters to sell their lands and homes, and to share everything for the common good (Acts 4:32–37). Those were internal miracles of epic proportions (or signs of socialism if misunderstood and forced—but those are two different schools of thought, two different spirits). My point being, that such extravagant expressions of love and generosity among average people don’t come naturally. They were undeniable evidences of great grace in action.
Signs and wonders aside, can you also imagine the massive amounts of grace the apostles relied upon to hold up under such displays of the Spirit’s power, the demands of long hours of preaching and ministering to crowds, the tremendous responsibility of managing the sale of people’s homes and properties, and then distributing those funds to those in need? No wonder the writer of Acts listed great power and great grace separately. The situation required that both be present.
But despite the camaraderie among church members, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, somehow missed out on the great grace poured out (Acts 5:1–10). They conspired against church leaders by claiming they were contributing all proceeds from the sale of their land, when in truth, they kept back a portion for themselves. Their story isn’t recorded to draw attention to their failure as Christians because they weren’t feeling the wave of generosity sweeping through the church. Peter made it perfectly clear that they were free to do with their own, whatever they desired (Acts 5: 3–4). God would’ve let them gracefully opt out of participating at all if their hearts weren’t feeling it.
Or, they could’ve asked Him to give them more grace so they too could wholeheartedly take part.
It’s one thing to hear that God is able to make all grace abound to you . . . (2 Corinthians 9:8); it’s another to actually ask for more when you’re not on board with what God is doing. If only Ananias and Sapphira had known that great grace was available at the same time as the Spirit's great power! Perhaps they wouldn’t have tried to deceive God and lost their lives on account of it. Be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace . . . (Hebrews 12:15).
Because of apostle Paul’s abundance of revelations, the Word says he was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Whether his thorn was sickness as some believe, or the barrage of great trials and troubles he faced, God’s answer to his third cry for help was, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’. He must've had a raging internal battle going on as well as physical. Paul’s deliverance obviously wasn’t going to be instantaneous either. What did that grace look like for him in his difficult season? Did Paul cry out daily for the added grace God said was available to get him through it all? Or just grit his teeth and hang on?
Grace goes so much deeper than our five senses—that was my fresh realization after my husband’s surgery. Grace’s 24/7 day-in-day-out presence is oftentimes so quiet and unassuming, it can be taken for granted. Do we give grace much thought? Or is it so subtle at times, so ever-present, that we miss opportunities to ask for and receive more? Writers of the New Testament must’ve known there was more abounding grace just waiting to be discovered, because seventeen of their twenty-seven books either begin, or end, (or both), with praying God’s grace upon their readers.
The Word invites us to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). It also says, where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20); and no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man . . . but with that temptation He will also provide the way of escape (more grace) that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). When we do fall into sin or pray with wrong motives, He gives more grace (James 4: 1–6).
I’m not wanting to overemphasize the subject, because whether or not we are aware of grace, each of us have already received mass amounts of it. But if it’s possible—to fall from grace, to find grace, to grow in grace, and abound in grace—what harm is there in being intently aware of grace's presence? more specific in our cries for help? When we're not yet on board with what God (and His church) are doing, why live with condemnation? We can find grace at His throne. There’s no need to give in to temptations to sin (like Ananias and Sapphira), when there’s more grace available to conquer it. When that difficult person we’re supposed to extend Christian love to, gets on our last nerve and we’re tempted to wash our hands of them, God can make His grace much-more abound toward us. When pressures and hurts and disappointments in life threaten to swallow up our strength and joy, more waves of grace are headed our way. Ask for it. We don't want to miss it.
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