Can I just say … I am thankful to be rid of 2017!
Last year began with pain, frustration, and disappointment. I had just endured shoulder surgery and the recovery was difficult. Pain was my constant companion and adapting to my limitations caused me much frustration.
I’m sure that’s why God planted the word grace so firmly in my heart at the beginning of last year (or at least that’s why I thought He did at the time). I knew without a doubt that Grace was my word for the year. God purposed to teach me much about that five letter word—extending grace, receiving grace, and living right smack dab in the middle of the warm, cozy, comfort of God’s lavish G-R-A-C-E.
Grace is like a cozy blanket. It draws me in, inviting me to linger in its comfort and security. In fact, I never want to leave the warm favor found at the center of God’s gracious and tender care for me. In the winter, grace is the warmth found in my Father’s arms wrapped securely around me, shielding and shaping me. Then spring arrives and gives birth to a warmth that comes only from the glow of the Son’s light. Giving me a radiant inner beauty that no makeover could ever accomplish, I delight in soaking in His grace and lingering in His presence.
So what other grace lessons did I learn last year? Did my understanding of the word evolve? Did I see the work of God’s grace in my life over the past 12 months? How am I different because of the grace God so tenderly drew me closer to last year?
I learned that grace paves the way to forgiveness. When I don’t have the desire, will, or heart to extend forgiveness, grace is the pathway that leads me there. God’s compassion, love, and kindness mark the road and smooth the way, making my stubborn, sinful will bend and break.
I learned that grace paves the way to surrender as God brought me to a place in my job where I had to say, “Not my will but yours, Lord.” His grace in a new role at work empowered me to “work as unto Him” in something new, rather than continue in the comfort of what I preferred and loved.
I learned (and am still learning) that grace paves the way in letting go. Open hands, not closed fists were a theme in my life last year. Learning to let go and watch my oldest son grow into the beginnings of adulthood was a challenge for this momma! God’s grace calmed my fears and helped me trust God in this new stage of life.
I learned that grace paves the way to endure pain and suffering as I had a second surgery on my shoulder, along with month and months of physical therapy. I’ve never really experienced constant pain, but I got a taste of what that’s like last year. Again, God’s grace proved sufficient, and I now have much more compassion for others who suffer with constant pain.
I learned that grace paves the way to a more balanced, stress-free life. My shoulder issues forced me to give myself grace because I could not accomplish as much as I had in the past. This deficiency forced me to add a bit of margin in my life. For once I gave myself permission to say, “no” to some things without feeling guilty. I also learned to extend that same grace to others. This was a freeing process and provided me with the wisdom to continue to build guilt-free margin into my life and encourage others to do the same.
At the beginning of 2018 I discovered the other reason God made grace my word for last year. You see, God’s grace paves the way to what’s next in His plan for me.
This year my word is perseverance. And although I didn’t know this in 2017, in January of 2018 the Lord revealed to me that the perseverance I will need for this year, would not have been possible without the deeper understanding of grace I experienced throughout 2017. Grace paved the way.
To persevere the way God intends in 2018, I will need discipline, intentionality, strength and endurance. God’s authority and control over our lives confounds and astounds me much of the time. He purposed the experiences of my life last year and many were difficult, but all along His intentions were to prepare me for something amazing in 2018. Stay tuned for those details in future posts!
As I look back on 2017, I do so with gratitude. The difficulties were prominent but God’s grace–well …
His grace was and is amazing.