I could tell where the conversation would go, just by the look on her face. Standing in the sunlight and talking with a friend opened the door for a little more… a little bit of communion of the soul… the sharing that requires time and effort to build trust and knock down walls. But quickly a shadow passed, her countenance seemed to change, and I could tell that she was mentally preparing an apology I would never require. All at once I felt the same shame that was covering her heart. I remembered why I find myself abandoned to grace and why I have been called to learn about the art of release this year.
Ultimately, it is not my job to cast doubt or fear into the heart of another soul. And I refuse to be the one who adds that brick to the shoulders already weighed down by a undeniable burden. As believers, our job is to dwell in hope, extend a hand to the hurt, and lend grace to one another
When every hour is grace, gratitude and love will rule our actions and our interactions with one another because grace is timely.
It is time. Time to put away the apologies and the shame and the weight that keeps us from going forward in God together.
It is time. Time to cast off the diversity that withholds unity and the differences that continually leave love out of our conversations.
It is time. Time to remember if God is for us, then we ought to be for one another.
It is time to be those who release grace.
Releasing grace allows us the affectation of His love for others. It keeps us from stepping into the conversations that bring us down. I am convinced that James 5:16 is a truth that is meant to elevate and liberate the called of God into their rightful place of hope-dwellers rather than dust-bearers broken and low.
I can’t explain this heart rending that sweeps over me, other than a discontent for our natural inclination to serve self. As followers of the One …who IS Love personified… we should act like it. But I can tell you that after years of standing on the other side of broken-hearted friends, believers who feel they failed God and themselves, women taking on the weight God has not called them to carry, being convicted by something not defined as grace. We miss the art of grace released in our lives when we fail to accept the gift it is meant to be.
“To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.” – Max Lucado
It is time to be done with the labels, the exclusion, the breaking. It is time to be like the One who loved so much He got dirty and bloody and broken to meet with the ragged, the busted, the bent over and the mistreated. And it is time to kick shame to the curb. It is time to stop putting one another in the place of defense and instead lace up the battle armor and go to war together offensively. It is time to lighten the load and to illuminate the way.
“Grace always shocks. Grace always stuns. Grace is always what we need. It’s what everyone groping around lost in the dark has to know: turn toward grace and you turn on all the lights.” – Ann Voskamp
Too many conversations as of late, are ringing in my ears. Words of conviction and of apology from those whose hearts are fractured by life. I have said these same words myself, depth of emotion clogging them, often incomprehensible, for the burden that accompanied them in weeping. I have sat on the side of the breaking, the watching, the wondering…asking where and what and how did I miss Him in this journey when the things I had prayed for didn’t transpire, or the children I sowed grace into didn’t receive it and run hard like I had hoped, or when the seeds I sowed only seemed to bring up weeds. And I have despaired over a failure I owned as my own, letting that gain a foothold rather than the truth of His constant love.
And these words in Acts 2 left me remembering the affectation of grace today. The weight of bearing His love in spades for others. Because isn’t that the good news? Isn’t that the gospel message? To be the one who extends a hand, to speak words of constancy and truth, to pour out His Spirit of joy, to be present in His Presence with others.
For David says in regard to Him, I saw the Lord constantly before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken or overthrown or cast down. Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue exulted exceedingly; moreover, my flesh also will dwell in hope. For You will not abandon my soul, leaving it helpless in Hades. You have made known the ways of life; You will enrapture me [diffusing my soul with JOY] with and in Your presence. – Acts 2:25-28
If we back up to the verses before that… the ones that talk about the end of days and the crazy that will be dispersed. The chaos that seems to mimic our every waking moment. If we look at the promised gift, the affectation of His grace for us… His Spirit poured out upon all mankind… and we read it truly, and we lived it fully, and we walked in it purposely…what can it mean?
And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind….
And I will show wonders…
And it shall be that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
– Acts 2:17,19,21
What can it mean when GOD pours Himself out? His literal self, friend… a poured out wonder of wonders upon those who are seeking Salvation in the Name of the One who is the essence of all life and the definition of true love.
Whoever calls…on that Name…is extended a grace and kindness that is indescribable.
Because salvation extends by the scepter of His righteousness, not our own. It is beyond our ability to pass finite knowledge into infinite wisdom and place a stipulation on who receives grace.
His wisdom, His perfect plan…the perfected plan of God… has already prepared to raise up all of those called by His Name. Death, the wages of it…the sin that has bound up and held captive….has no power to retain or restrain the redeemed soul from liberation. Those who were called are also sealed by this grace gift, and are no longer required to dwell within the hopelessness its shadow casts.
But God raised Him up, liberating Him from the pangs of death seeing that it was not possible for him to continue to be controlled by it. – Acts 2:24
What He did for Jesus…what he exemplified through Christ’s sacrifice… is also extended to us. That is what Jesus came to complete. His resurrection not only restored life but resurrected hope. And in this life, this dirty, hard, difficult and imperfect life we life… it is the affectation of grace (God’s unmerited favor) that we need to learn to extend in love.
Because of His favor.
Because of His love.
Because of His Mercy.
Because of Jesus …we can dwell in hope.
When the constancy of God is made knowledge to our soul, we dwell in Him not the world.
We can exist beyond our circumstances into the very presence of liberty. We can dwell securely in hope. We can dwell in the fullness of His grace, exulting in the glory and rejoicing in our heart at the wonder of His Spirit poured out upon our own. Because this truth is real… He doesn’t abandon us. He does not allow us to be left to destruction. But BY THE WORD, He will raise up all those called by His Name. In his presence joy completes and overshadows doubt, fear, shame and every other thing that separates us from experience His contagious love.
I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my body rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety. For You will not abandon me to Sheol, neither will You suffer Your holy one to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. -Psalm 16:8-11
The exclamation point of faith, today, friend is this: God is for you!
And if God is for you, then so am I.
And if that is the case, you don’t need to wear the shame of your sorrow like a badge of judgment. Instead, let me walk with you, releasing your burdens and carrying the yoke with you a while, reminding you of the joy of His presence and the power of His spirit. Let me unwind that rope that is pulling tightly on your heart, keeping you captive so that you are restrained from seeing the One who is at your right hand fighting for you. Let me remind you of the unity of believers, the hope-dwellers, the believers who love God and believe on Jesus because there is power where two or more are gathered in His name. Let me fight with you and for you rather than against you, today.
We are called to release grace into one another’s lives so that we are breaking down the walls and liberating others.
I can spot the burden before you speak it, because I recognize it as one I carry, too. But we are called to persevere steadfastly together, to be commonly called, assembled with a purpose and glad simplicity in our hearts. We are to be a constant source of goodwill, a remnant of God, bearing the good news to one another.
And friend, if we have that conversation together, I hope you will know that His love is bigger than the words you speak. There is an affection for you, an affection of grace that beckons the broken near and liberates, restores, and redeems. I hope you will let me dwell with you a while and linger in the economy of grace.
It is time to be hope dwellers.
It is time to overthrow the burdens we carry.
It is time to be joyfully steadfast.
It is time to release grace together.
IT’S YOUR TURN TO BE A GRACE COUNTER! SHARE YOUR GRACE MOMENT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND THEN COUNT GRACE WITH A FRIEND WITH COMMENT ON A BLOG OR TWO.
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.