Every Circle Grace

Grace is an interesting topic. In my years in the church, the focus of grace has mostly been on the grace we receive from God. Rightly so. And during this Lenten season, it deserves top of mind.

Devoted followers of Jesus’ teachings believe we are to give what we receive. Everything we receive from God we are to pass on. Love. Mercy. Forgiveness. Faithfulness. And even Grace.

My observation is we tend to gift grace in various degrees. Some people give themselves plenty of grace…much more than they give to others. Some people disproportionately give their family members grace in comparison to others-some more, some less. One amazing observation that stands out more and more is the grace people in the church give to themselves compared to the grace they give people outside the church. Again, it goes both ways. Some people give better grace to their fellow churchgoers while others give better grace to those outside the church.

For better or worse, I’m the latter. For the record, neither is correct. Grace is to be shared with all people equally.

Looking at Jesus’ relationship circles, we observe supernatural grace giving. He gave Peter as much grace as he gave the woman at the well. He shared his grace equally with Nicodemus and Judas. His mother and Pilate both received appropriate grace. What an example he left us.

I most often fail at giving grace to those in my closest relationship circles. That awareness provides growth opportunity so whether in the next hour I engage a stranger in the store, a friend on the phone, or a colleague in the office, my grace is for every circle.

Jesus practiced every circle grace. His resurrection power says, “So can I.”

Our Batons

This morning I listened to a student pastor speak on the importance of being for the next generation. He used the analogy of passing off a baton in a relay race. His last point was an encouragement to not waste your weakness-meaning your past brokenness, your inabilities, or your inexperience do not disqualify you from being on the track, being part of passing off your baton to the next generation. You can carry a baton and pass it on.

Got me to thinking about the actual baton. What is the baton we are passing off? Is it just a broad view of a way of life? What if each one of us knew in more detail what the baton is that we are carrying? I believe we have our own unique baton that we can pass off to countless others throughout life.

Many things come to mind for me. I have a baton of music that I have passed on in many ways. I have the baton of church leadership that is still running its course. I have a baton of living a contented single life. One could say I have a baton of running that I occasionally pass on.

Those are skills and experiences. We could, and I believe we should, consider our spiritual batons also. These spiritual batons are the core of who we are, how we live. We run with the baton of faith, surrender, peace, hope, love, mercy, humility, kindness, patience-what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit.

Another thought about our unique baton could include the life challenges that God has used to mature us. These could be anything from experiencing loss of jobs, finances, relationships to seasons of doubt, distance, or disconnect. All of these things make up the baton that we are carrying.

What if we held tight enough to our unique baton making sure we don’t drop it but loose enough to let God keep molding it? What if we passed on these batons as often as we are prompted to while we are living rather than only after we die? What if we lived more for what we relay than what we grip?

You might have to get a wheelbarrow for all those batons. But imagine the impact when your race is over and your batons are still in the race.

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Remember

When the car dies

Remember what He’s already done

When the doctor isn’t smiling

Remember what He’s already done

When the check bounces

Remember what He’s already done

When 3AM parenting clocks in

Remember what He’s already done

When they move out

Remember what He’s already done

When the blue lights follow

Remember what He’s already done

When the house is empty

Remember what He’s already done

When you don’t know what you don’t know

Remember what He’s already done

When the tank runs dry

Remember what He’s already done

When shame invades

Remember what He’s already done

When your best is rejected

Remember what He’s already done

When forgiveness appears wasted

Remember what He’s already done

When eternity taps your shoulder

Remember what He’s already done

When reflection lies

Remember what He’s already done

When it’s your time

Remember what He’s already done

Photo by Mihály Köles on Unsplash

Light

Light uncovers

the begging to be

seen, corrected, confessed, forgiven, celebrated, heard, protected, cleansed.

Light pulls

out the

disfigured, undiscovered, forgotten, lonely, hurting, rotting, hidden, stolen.

Light comes

rhythmically to every

morning, home, friend, neighbor, child, field, highway, mountain.

Light resurrects

what darkness

broke, destroyed, severed, tore, distorted, invaded, belied, abandoned.

Light wins

in every

heart, mind, city, neighborhood, country, family, room, soul.

Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash

Mile 4

Pat Schneider’s writing is inspiring. Needed attempt at brain pressure release.

Unsuspected I approach

They meander

Pacing and pecking, flapping and feeding, united and unique

Unsurprised I pause

They pass

busy and bothered, noticed and noted, caught and captured

Unhesitant I acknowledge

They came

sent and selected, happy and harmonious, celebratory and committed

Reflecting on seeing the flock of ibis on my run this morning, the day after my birthday, and my friend who joked I work like them. “The family flew in.”

“They Changed My Life”

Twice in the last 24 hours I’ve heard the same accolade given to a man: “He changed my life.”

One was in an episode of “The Good Doctor.” A character, grieving the loss of a coworker, said he had changed her life. Her grieving caused her to see it.

The other was in a devotional. A high school senior gave this praise to a teacher. Many teachers get this opportunity-to change a life.

As you read this, I’m guessing someone in your past comes to mind. A teacher? A coach? An employer? A family member? A pastor? A friend? A coworker?

This person, although living their life with purpose, most likely didn’t look at you and determine, “They need changing. I’m going to change them.” Not that literal. What they most likely did was simply see you. Listen to you. Answer you. Value you. Honor your place in the world. Give you a place in their world. And it was enough to foster change.

May we all see, listen, answer, value, honor, and give enough to foster change. May we all have said of us, “They changed my life.”

Photo by Zazen Koan on Unsplash

Grace to Fake It

I was called a liar yesterday. In jest while proofing my email, my colleague accused me of not being honest by expressing appreciation for a phone call that they understood I wasn’t really thrilled about having received. They were right, sort of.

My reply, “It’s called grace.” Amy Cuddy would call it “faking it till you become it.” (From her book Presence)

Let’s be honest. We don’t always have grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, trust-all the things we want to have, to be, to give. It’s that fruit of the Spirit list (Galatians 5:22-23) that we strive for, that we judge ourselves by, that we possibly believe just isn’t attainable.

Although Cuddy wasn’t making a spiritual statement with her suggestion, I’m suggesting we can adopt it when it comes to producing spiritual fruit. Following the Spirit’s lead, we can give grace, even if it feels less than 100%. We can forgive, even if it isn’t 100% pure…yet. Does that mean we are lying? I’d say it means we are “walking more in the Spirit than in the flesh” (back up to verse 16 in Galatians 5).

We have to start somewhere. Maybe what we all need is grace-grace to allow ourselves to fake (submit to it when it isn’t 100% what we feel) the fruit until we become it. Sorta like when your parents made you say you were sorry and you loved your sibling as part of their discipline tactics. 100%?

P.S. The reply email I received produced better results from faking it than not.