In the quiet places I see the visages of grace that shine out.  Recognition comes quick when my own voice is a whisper that turns into a plea and a prayer for more.  More of God. More of His goodness. More of His grace. More of Him and less of me. Those are the words that began 2018 for me with this #yearofmore.

The thing is that He shows up every single time we cry out, fully. Like He is fully there, always.  He doesn’t need to be more, because He already is more than enough for all my needs.  But in order for Him to be fully God in the midst of me,  then a refining must take place.

And without grace I wouldn’t survive this journey of sanctification. Without grace, I am not sure I would fully learn just how to release my hold.  There is a pure holy art in letting go of this world, the small dreams and worldly trivialities that keep me from embracing more and more of God. Because I am starting to see that nothing in Him is small or minute or trivial, it all has purpose… it all has eternal value. It has the capacity for so much more than I understand just now.

And I think we are meant to long for more because, ultimately, this is not our home. Yet the paradox is not about longing for more of what we see, but letting go of the things we look towards.  To gain the skill of looking beyond, of looking for good and true and beautiful and holy things, of looking to God always.

Because there is so much more where we begin to multiply the moments where grace meets us, collecting up the eternal in a holy account of hope for the very purpose of dispensing it to others.

I’ve said it before, and I come back over and over again to this reality… grace given away is multiplied exponentially in ways we can’t begin to count. Favor, kindness, mercy, hope… they are connected to the way of grace… they are part of the weight of grace. And grace is not a burden but a gift, it’s weight is not felt but infused into the essence of our words and our walk and our living.

Because it becomes God working through us, His vision becoming our own, so that peace is the outcome.

I am learning  and relearning this truth daily. Sometimes at the depth of my own failing I see the remnants of each lesson clearly outlined in the history of my heart. Frustrated that yet ,again, I am having to pick up this cross that I thought I nailed…. my full ability to be human and broken and faulty and redeemed and healed and restored all at the same time can be overwhelming.

I forget that He’s using each situation to mold me and refine me when I find myself retreating from the hard things. I want to find safety when I am tempted to stop looking through the lens of grace. Yet, somewhere in the  midst of those fears we are letting hold court in our days, we find the courage to keep going.  Sometimes the Sabbath places we settle into are the resting our souls require, like a holy calling we answer. And then sometimes they become a refuge of forgetfulness where we miss the chance to let grace win, to multiply the marks of one who is holding out for more of God instead of holding on to more of the world.

When I hold on to the wrong things, the wrong things hold onto me. – John Freeman

I want to hold on to the right things. I want to embrace grace…always. I want to let love win even when I want to run away.

What about you?

Finally, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thin on an weight and take account of these things. [fix your mind on them] -Philippians 4:8

I found something in Paul’s words to the Philippians about fixing our mind on holding to the good things.  The echo of grace is there, too.  It’s repeated as a mantra in the promise that is tied up in peace.

Looking for the just and true, honest and lovely, good and virtuous things that emit praise instead of complaints is a skill we have to learn to master. Through the lens of grace, the direction of our sight changed .  We lift above the horizon of the temporal into an eternal  promise of hope which is encoded in every single soul.

Because it is there… it really is…The Imago Dei.  God’s handprint of perfect design is in us and He is working it out in us.  (Phil 1:6)

As the image bearers of God we have hope encoded within us.  And there is a remnant of grace that is strong there, too…a faith-seed that will grow to sycamore proportions. And if we look for it, we’ll see an outline of love.  And it will help us to let go of the rest… to relax our need to control and to organize and order.  It breaks down the walls we build, destroys the guards we set up and diminishes our arguments. I forget how much I desperately need those reminders.

The ordinary ways of grace meet us where we are and deliver hope in a thousand different ways. Our lives and our stories cross and connect and we are forced to live broken together because in the living we love more.

But it’s hard work. It is holy work. It is sanctifying work.

Because loving people isn’t always easy. But easy love is not true love. And deep faith is not met by instant download. Real friendship, authentic relationships, they are not agreed upon as a contract but earned and held close and guarded and sacred. And fought for.

Authenticity needs to be fought for.

Philippians 4:8 is a challenge to train us up so we can fight for the things that refine us and that teach us to love, like the more-than kind-of-love that God calls us to spill out.

And to be honest, I don’t always feel like fighting for the good things the way I should or looking for the deep good and hidden beauty and consistent virtue.  It seems I can easily let the excuse of exhaustion block the pursuit for more of God and become stagnant in grace.

Like when I jump to conclusions with my kids, (read impatience) when I come  home to find a mess waiting for me, rather than waiting for an explanation and an acknowledgment of what they have accomplished instead.

Or perhaps not wanting to hear the concerned words of a friend (read offended), whose messages hits  the heart, rather than examine each message for truth, goodness, and beauty.

And I miss the warning signs that I need a break (read over-scheduled), and it is ok to rest and escape into His dwelling place, instead of pushing through

Grace really can win in the midst of our less than moments.  It is ok to fail… because grace doesn’t. 

Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model our way of living on it, and the God of peace will be with you.- Philippians 4:9

Life’s been full lately.  My retreat reaction has been big.  It is a dangerous place for me to be, sometimes.  And I can forget to look through the lens of grace. I am reminded of my failures and my less-than-moments that don’t look like #gracemoments frequently. It is so easy to stay in the stature of defeat when we take our eyes of His Truth.

But God makes the hard possible.

Navigating relationships is hard. Living with people is not always easy. Loving one another like Jesus takes brave faith. I hear my own words echo remembrance as I talk to my kids about looking at life through the worldview of His Word.  But it also reminds me that our pursuit of more with God is also about trusting the transaction of grace in the midst of the moments of living, of seeing the difficulties as opportunities to fight for authenticity, of being willing to be uncomfortable for a short while because there is something good on the other side.

If we let ourselves rest comfortably in process of learning to look differently, we will find the temporary discomfort we experience is also a means of grace. And we’ll find that letting go of what we are holding on to, grabbing on to the good and the true and the lovely, is the right thing. It is the necessary thing. It

is the best thing.

And we’ll find ourselves with more of Christ because it will always lead us into peace.

Praying for you to feel the Lord leading you to look through the lens of grace at the hard thing you are facing today.

If you are a blogger, link up here with a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*

Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.

If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment. Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.

Each week I will try visit as many of your amazing posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.

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