The Lost Art of Saying Grace

7:38 AMHeather

So, let me get you up to speed--in case you missed it.  Instead of New Year's resolutions, I choose a word for the year.  One word.  Something I want to learn more about, apply to my life, study and really grasp.  And, my word for 2012 is grace.  Grace is unmerited favor.  And, as I have mentioned here a few months ago, I first thought it was a rather basic--and boring--word, yet I was drawn to it.  I was so wrong.  I have been fascinated by the study of this word in God's word and just how rich and deep and life changing GRACE can be.  

Grace.  Truly, I have realized, the very heart of my faith.  That God poured out his unmerited favor on me.  Not because I deserved it.  None of us do.  But, simply his loving desire to pour out favor on me by sending his Son to pay my debts, to cover my shortcomings.  This year I have been challenged to consider just how big I think God's grace is.  I tend to minimize my mistakes, rationalize them, dumb them down.  But, truly, every day I fall short in many ways.  What about those criminals we hear about on television?  Or those people we might know who have made BIG mistakes?  This year, I feel God challenging me.  If I believe he has grace for me--or anyone--then do I believe his grace is big enough for everyone?  His grace is the reason for my hope.  For my faith in His good purposes.  For my security in an eternity of fellowship with Him.  For joy in every day.  Because when you break it down it's all about grace.  It was His love that led to his grace.  And it's his grace that draws me to him.

The other day, I was driving across the city to go pick up a friend who was staying in north Dallas.  As I drove, I was mulling over grace.  Once again, turning it over and over in my mind.  In a light bulb moment, I realized that we all suffer the lost art of saying grace.  Yes, I do mean that act of stopping to thank God for our food--to recognize Him as the giver of all good things.  Like that Norman Rockwell picture where the people are stopping to pray in the middle of their meal.  

But, there's something more that I think causes us major problems in our culture and in our relationships.  We have lost the art of saying grace to each other.  Of having grace for each other.  Of being so attuned to the grace we've been shown by God that we are eager to show grace to others.  

I have to admit this here for the sake of being honest.  Even as I was meditating on this lost art of saying grace while I was driving, someone cut me off in traffic.  Ugh.  Made my blood boil, and I thought to myself, "What a jerk!"   Geez, I wonder why people think Christians are hypocrites?  There I was, pondering how we all could stand to show more grace to others, and my knee jerk reaction was to be so completely offended by someone asserting themselves in my way.  I sorta chuckled at myself, in a very sad way.  And, then I thought about grace.  And, I thought, "Oh, that my first reaction would be to assume the best, to let them go right ahead, to lay back and not sweat it. To refuse to get worked up by others' shortcomings."

Glimpse of grace:  No newsflash here, but we are all human.  We make mistakes.  Each and every one of us.  And, that we could embrace the art of saying grace.  That we could make it an integral part of our day to remember God's unmerited favor to us.  To have eyes to see it.  To lay our demands and our goals and our agenda aside to be thankful for all that we already have.  And to be so moved by that art of thanking God for His tiniest of gifts that we are quick to extend grace to others.  Not because they deserve it.  No, it's not about them at all.  It's about the condition of our own heart.  For our own good.  For the blessings that come when we yield to others to pour unmerited favor on them.  Just for the sake of obedience to our God who abounds in love with mercy overflowing.  Instead of "what a jerk" response to someone who cuts me off, to have a love tank so filled by God's grace toward me that I could refuse to be worked up by others' shortcomings and instead roll on with my day.  I am not advocating becoming a door mat.  Instead, I am proposing that we could all stand to be constantly aware of His grace toward us instead of demanding our "rights."  And, if we could approach others FIRST with an attitude of grace before we fight for ourselves, how might things change?  I love the old hymn Come Thou Fount.   My favorite line is toward the end--

let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to Thee.

We are all prone to wander.  It's His lovingkindness that draws us to repentance.  That we might train ourselves to be every thankful for that undeserved lovingkindness.  So aware of His goodness that we extend it to others.  The lost art of saying grace. 

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