The Sweet Embrace of Evergreen Grace. TLC for every season.
It was the interview straight from hell! Not only was I late for the appointment, but I arrived on the wrong day. While sitting in the waiting area, I noticed a stain on the lapel of my blazer! And just to add insult to a long list of injuries, I forgot to take copies of my resume.
During the interview, the hiring manager’s questions were combative and insulting. My typical composed demenor jumped out the window leaving me to stumble and bumble through every single answer. With each answer I sputtered, she demanded overwhelming proof of my accomplishments. The entire experience felt more like an interrogation than an interview.
After what seemed a lifetime, the conversation came to a merciful conclusion. At which point my interrogator, I mean the hiring manager, stood to her feet, shook my hand and said, “You’re hired.”
Talk about shocked. I was completely blown away! The impact of such an unexpected outcome, following such a disasterous performance, woke me from my slumber.
Thankfully it had all been a horrible dream. Correction… a horrible nightmare. As I fumbled for my phone to check the time, God’s still soft voice spoke to me and said, “That is what my grace is like. You do everything wrong, and I shower you with blessings anyway!” Does that surprise you as much as it did me? Would you expect to be hired after a performance like that? Would you hire someone after a performance like that?
I suppose it surprised me so much because it is totally opposite from anything I would expect from the world, from religion or from myself. On this planet blessing and reward is almost always contingent on performance. But the Lord’s grace is not contingent on our performance. I guess that is why it’s called grace.
My dream was the means God used to help me better understand how different he is from the world. Up to that moment, I did not realize how much I had been projecting my earthly experiences with people on my relationship with him. The belief that blessing only happens if I get it right, led to endless striving to get it right. Yet I could never “get it right enough” to attain the level of blessing and peace I needed.
And even if life threw me a bone now and again, I still labored under the worry of what tomorrow would bring. What a torment. What a burdensome way to live. Thank God he was able to penetrate my thick skull and speak to my heart about His love. Even the ability to receive God’s grace is an act of his grace.
That’s why Saint Paul said, “While we were yet sinners,” (unable to get anything right, blind to the fact that we couldn’t, clueless that we needed a Savior and helpless to do anything about it) “Christ died for us.” What an amazing salvation. What amazing Grace!
An insightful pastor from Washington D.C. wrote a book entitled, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.” He gave a truly fantastic illustration of God’s grace concerning our mistakes and shortcomings. He recalled how in 1977, a team of IBM engineers designed a computer called Deep Blue. It was specifically developed to outmaneuver grand chess master Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue was equipped with thirty-two processing engines, capable of calculating 200 million chess moves per second.
The author suggests that our life is similar to a game of chess. Many times we have no idea what our next move should be. Chances are, many will be the wrong one. But the King of Kings has already factored the next 200 million contingency plans to Checkmate our personal deficits. In other words, his grace has made complete provision for our mistakes and learning curve.
Romans 8:28 say it this way, “In all things God works for the good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.”
Or consider Psalm 37:23-24. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” No matter the conditions or the season, his grace is always alive, always flourishing. God’s grace is evergreen.
The degree to which we believe in the evergreen grace of God at work on our behalf determines how we live; whether in fear, striving, anger and separation, or in peace, assuredness, forgiveness and communion. Maybe some of your past decisions or present situations have stolen your peace. Maybe despair and anxiety has overtaken your heart and mind. If so, then ask yourself this question, “What am I putting my faith in? Is it the power of mistakes and circumstances or the power of God’s love and grace?”
I struggled through a very painful season where I was totally convinced I had messed up my life beyond repair. It seemed there was too much loss, too many mistakes, and not enough time to fix it. But God kept reminding me of Proverbs 24:16, “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will rise again.” In Biblical numerology seven represents completeness or perfection.
Maybe this scripture is trying to tell us is that although we might feel like the “perfect” failure, as the beloved of God, and by his grace, we WILL rise again!
The Bible also tells us that in our weakness, his power is made perfect. That means our limitations and screw ups don’t limit God. As long as we call on his strength, we will have more than enough to handle, endure or overcome whatever life throws at us. You see, God’s ability to create something from nothing is not limited to the creation of the world.
It is the embodiment of his person-hood. It is the essence of his grace. God takes our nothingness, our emptiness, our end-of- the-ropeness and creates the capacity in our hearts and minds to receive his resources for the situations of life. When we give him our inability, he gives us his abundance. What a deal!
So just imagine for a brief moment if you could love your spouse by grace. What if you could raise your children by grace? What would it mean if you could work your job, forgive yourself and others, go through the bankruptcy, suffer a great loss, overcome the addiction, or meet the unrealistic demands all through grace?
Rather than fretting over circumstances or striving to change someone else, you could simply ask God for grace greater than the challenge.
If that sounds appealing to you, just pray this simple prayer and receive your Father’s everlasting evergreen grace.
“Heavenly Father, I bring you my painful difficult situation. Lord I am so perplexed and clueless how to solve it. I ask that by your grace you would impart to my life the strength, wisdom, ability and hope I need regarding this matter. I bring my weakness and inability to the cross and ask that it be crucified. Resurrect me in Jesus so I can replace my endless striving, failure and confusion with your strength and grace.
Forgive me for giving up. Forgive me for looking to myself or others for what only you can provide. And forgive me for putting more faith in the bigness of circumstance, as I perceive them, rather than faith in the bigness of your grace. Father, I ask that you transform my inability with your supernatural ability for this situation. Thank you that your grace towards me never dies. I give you permission to let your evergreen grace flourish in my life, in my heart, soul, mind and spirit. Amen.”
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8