Grace of Submission

I don’t always know best. I often think I do.
There were many days this summer on our God sized Project that I really wished I knew best. My way was faster, easier, and ultimately not how it got done.

I know just enough about construction to be dangerous. The creative, artistic part of me can come out a little too much. “It’s close enough.” “Does it really matter?” “Do we have to spend the time to do it that way?”

Shop floor
Shop floor

This entire summer was invested in a proper foundation for our shop, for my future. I would have expected two months at the most to be where we were four months into the project. I know the investment is worth it. That doesn’t automatically make it easy to have a good attitude. Our building season is short and we are really short on space. For too much of the summer I let the pressure of my desires ruin my attitude.

6" of insulation under the entire floor
6″ of insulation under the entire floor

Making sure everything is super insulated has been SO time-consuming. The extra insulation will save us money on heating forever.

 Am I insulating my soul? How do I insulate my soul? Constant feeding on the Living Word of God insulates me from setbacks and discouragement.
So much goes into the foundation. Everything must be square, straight and level. Then there is water-line, electrical, plumbing and heating that all has to be thought of and at least partially included in the foundation. It takes a long time and lots of effort.
River of red tubing
River of red tubing

Our spiritual foundation takes time and effort, too. In a sense it is finished, Jesus is the cornerstone, the author and finisher of our faith. In another sense we must keep building what Jesus has done into our own lives. Just as I had to choose to believe His offer of salvation I have to choose to believe He wants what is best for me, that He loves me, that He has good plans for my future. Submitting to what He says instead of what I feel or see. Chose His eternal truth over facts.
Over and over I have chosen to submit to my husband on the building project and God on the timing. My husband wants what is best and knows far more than I do about building. I submit, defer to his decision on how things must be done. He has patiently listened to my suggestions and questions, my pushing for somehow going faster or easier.

Proof I was doing more than taking pictures :)
Proof I was doing more than taking pictures 🙂

I also know God wants what is best and He is always faithful, never late. As a dear couple at church keep reminding me: Our project is not behind. We are on God’s time.
He is building in me and my family a foundation straight, level and square. We are going to need it. Just as the longevity of our building through wind and weather and even earthquakes depends hugely on the foundation our longevity of loving and serving God rests on our foundation of faith in Jesus and His Word. It would be easy to fall away when storms come without a good foundation.
The grace of submitting means the foundation is being built properly, even if I don’t always like the process or the timing. I can submit knowing the outcome will be what I really want not just what would be nice today.
Choose His eternal truth over facts.

Grace, Please? Thank you!

This week’s post was supposed to be about grace.
Instead I am asking for grace.
Building season, growing season, summer – pretty much everything but winter – is really short here in Alaska.

Doing as much as we can on our own on our God Sized Project keeps me very busy. We make progress every week. We are very grateful for Brian’s schedule that gives us 3 day weekends every week. We also have a LONG way to go. 
So I am asking for grace. I’ve not had the time or mental energy to put together a post for this week.
Thank you!
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We burned a outline of Alaska on our building site in April.Fire of Grace in Alaska IMG_1282
We cleared the ground for the foundation in May.Spreading GravelThe void had to be filled. Filling the hole.

Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.
Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.
Compacting for a strong building site.IMG_1772We dug in the footings in July.
IMG_1973Form boards and insulation under and inside the footings. IMG_2179Beginning of August we’re putting steel in the footings and insulating the outside of the footings.
I’ve posted a list of blessings God has given us almost every week, mostly to remind myself of His faithfulness. If you care to see how He’s providing look here: God Sized Project
How have you experienced grace this week?

Waiting Is Grace

Waiting is Grace

Waiting is not something I always do well. Often do not do well really.

I was so excited when I saw that waiting is grace.

Then I spent a month waiting and realized my excitement was quickly lost.

Why does God wait until the last possible second to provide what we need? 
It is grace. 
Think I’m crazy. Stick with me.
Remember Abraham. He waited 25 years for Isaac. That took – or maybe developed – patience. It took grace.
Let’s look at another scene with Abraham and Isaac.
1 Some time after these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” Abraham replied. 2 God said, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah! Offer him up there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will indicate to you.” 3 Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants with him, along with his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he started out for the place God had spoken to him about. 4 On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place in the distance.
This instruction makes no sense. Yet Abraham does not hesitate to obey. Amazing!
Let’s look farther on in the scene.

5 So he said to his servants, “You two stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go up there. We will worship and then return to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. Then he took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 “God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replied. The two of them continued on together.

Faith in the God who has been faithful for so many years.

9 When they came to the place God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood.

He is really doing this!

10 Then he stretched out his hand and grabbed the knife to slaughter his son.

Still doing this!

 11  Just then, an angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. 12 “Do not harm the boy!” the angel said. “Do not do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me.” Genesis 22:1-12 NET

Talk about the last possible second! The knife was in the air!

Waiting requires faith, without faith it is not possible to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). Requiring us to wait in faith is grace, allowing us to be pleasing.

Us waiting brings Him glory. Us waiting in faith brings Him more glory.

Us wandering around wringing our hands about when and how the provision will come robs some of His glory.

Us waiting with Biblical hope, the earnest expectation of a great good, brings Him glory.

We were created to bring Him glory. The waiting is grace.

I am waiting for financial provision or unpleasant situations to shift, not waiting for a way out of sacrificing my child!

I will put the energy of wondering and “hoping” to real hope and patience in faith. My God will supply all my needs.

I will provide the priests with abundant provisions. My people will be filled to the full with the good things I provide.”  Jeremiah 31:14 NET

 

Compacting the Foundation – Grace in the Shaking

In preparing for our foundation we found a large pocket of clay that had to be removed.

After I dig out the clay – the lies, the misconceptions, the doubt, the ingratitude, the worry, the fear – I need to bring in new material, – reading God’s word, listening to godly people and God Himself. Then I need to plant it firmly in my soul.
The hole must be filled.

A strong foundation isn’t built over a void.

Bringing in fill in the International Harvester dump truck
The fill had large rocks. Just left as they are they would make the foundation weak. the spaces would allow water to collect, potentially allowing frost heaving. It would also allow future settling when the weight of the building sits over the voids, even small ones.

Leveling it up.

The rocks could be removed, or they could be packed in tight. The fill must be compacted. Compacting takes water. Water, pressure, and shaking.

Filling the hole.
26 Whose voice was the cause of the shaking of the earth; but now he has made an oath, saying, There will be still one more shaking, not only of the earth, but of heaven. 27 And the words, Still one more, make it clear that there will be a taking away of those things which are shaking, as of things which are made, so that there may be only those things of which no shaking is possible. 28 If then, we have a kingdom which will never be moved, let us have grace, so that we may give God such worship as is pleasing to him with fear and respect: 29 For our God is an all-burning fire. Heb 12:26-29 BBE (emphasis mine)

Getting flatter, more solid.
To fill the void in my soul I also need water. Jesus my living water and the washing with His Word. I need the Word not just passing my ears, not just on Sunday morning or a few minutes in morning devotions.

Compacting
I need His words pounded deep in my soul. Firmly planted as part of my foundation.

Meditation is the work that firmly plants the word. Think on His word again and again. New revelation of the life in His word.

Each meditation pushes it deeper. the solids being pushed deeper, closer, firmer fills the voids.

Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.
Final passes over the pad to compact the fill, press everything into place.

Leaving holes, little voids in my soul allows me to settle.

A little complaining, a little impatience, a little questioning of God’s faithfulness or goodness. Each void can be filled with His word so I am less shaken. I know the shaking is grace, I choose to welcome it.
The shaking can be quite unpleasant when we forget who and what is shaking.
The shaking transforms something rough and useless into a prime place to build. What grace!

This is the same rocky spot, now tightly compacted, ready to build.
This is the same rocky spot, now tightly compacted, ready to build.

When we remember God does the shaking, that we have been given an unshakable Kingdom, that’s exciting!
The shaking is grace.
We are given grace through the shaking.
We give grace through the shaking as we praise and worship our God of grace.

Are you becoming firmer in God through the shaking or falling apart?

Fire of Grace

Fire of Grace in AlaskaWe lit a fire in communities throughout Alaska and let it spread across the state. Our prophetic prayer for our beloved state. Our prayer for grace to be seen here like never before.

Fire

Fire is powerful, often destructive – certainly when it is out of control. Under control it is quite useful. Our fire burned away the dead, the unfruitful. This will make room for new growth. The black ash draws heat from the sun to warm the soil. Burning the dead grass makes the nutrients more accessible to the living plants.

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Grace is a holy fire burning everything that will not last in the Kingdom of God. The question is not if grace is under control.

It is – Are we under grace?

The burning will come. Burning away those dead works of ours makes room for growth, nourishes our soul for He makes beauty from ashes.

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For someone not under grace the fire is devastating, yet still grace, for in devastation one can still turn to Him, still accept His grace. He can take even those ashes, those burned without one having faith. He has already done that for each of us. Ashes from our pre-saved lives are being made beautiful even now, beautiful for eternity.

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As our dead works are burned away we will grow, refreshingly sweet. Others will see how our ashes became beauty. This is the way of grace. The way of redemption. The way of revival.

Fire of Grace burning along the Iditarod Trail
Fire of Grace burning along the Iditarod Trail

As we burn others will see our freedom and long to burn as well. It will spread until the whole world hears.

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All is grace. The beauty and the fire.

Redefine Failure

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I need to redefine failure.

This was a revelation to me. I have read many books and articles about defining success. I was well aware I needed to have God’s view of success, know what He required, be more concerned with that than what any person said success was, looked like or contained. I have spent many hours reshaping my vision of success. It still needs frequent touch ups and even remodel work.

Failure though? I know what failure looks like. Don’t I?

Failure is quitting, giving up, walking away. That is what my mind said.

“If you are still trying you haven’t failed.” That is what I tell others.

The revelation was for me failure was messing up, making a mistake, anything short of perfection. Even worse this definition often applied to my children.

My mind had one definition. My heart had another. Maybe my heart and mind had definitions for everyone else and other definitions for me? my children? How could I ever feel good about who I am as a mom if I am doomed to “failure” by my very definition?

I can’t. Neither can you.

So I realized I must redefine failure.
I turned to Webster’s 1828 to see what he said failure was.

Failure
FA’ILURE, n. fa’ilyur.
1. A failing; deficience; cessation of supply, or total defect; as the failure of springs or streams; failure of rain; failure of crops.
2. Omission; non-performance; as the failure of a promise; a man’s failure in the execution of a trust.
3. Decay, or defect from decay; as the failure of memory or of sight.
4. A breaking, or becoming insolvent. At the close of a war, the prices of commodities fall, and innumerable failures secceed.
5. A failing; a slight fault. [Little used.]

Failure can mean an area that is not perfect, an area of deficet. I realized again as I thought about those definitions the need to seperate myself from my behavior. I have been told this many times. I have failings, short comings, deficets. That is far different from “I am a failure.” The later is what I all too often hear in my head, from myself, when I experience a failing.

I will fail in the sense of small, or large, choices along the way. None of my failures are enough to redefine me as a failure. I am the righteousness of Christ Jesus by His righteous work.
In redefining failure I must give myself grace to be okay when I make mistakes. Grace for the time it takes to change habits. Grace to learn. Grace to try again because then I have not failed. I, in fact, cannot fail because I will never give up trying to look more like Jesus. Bringing glory to God is success. Looking like Jesus brings God glory. Success acheived.

For sake of full disclosure I can think through truth and process failure in my mind. I can reason and maybe even know in my head and my spirit that I am not a failure. I still fight feeling like one far more than I would like to admit. I do not say that to make you feel hopeless. I say it to keep away any illusions that because I write about issues and bring them neatly wrapped in scriptural truth does not mean I have it all together. I still need God desprately. every. day.
No matter how I fail or feel He will never fail. That’s grace.

What does failure look like for you?
Success?

Why Grace?

Grace.

Why write about grace?

What good does it do to study grace if I am not willing to live grace?

Giving grace, making allowances, the benefit of the doubt comes easy most of the time, except to myself… expect when I am hurt… or scared… or full of pride.

Why talk grace for others if there is no grace for the face in the mirror?

Grace for others is hard to muster when grace is not received.

Freely I have received so freely I must give. (Matthew 10:8)

Grace was freely given. Have I freely received?

Grace has made me the righteousness of Christ. (Romans 5:17) Do I freely receive that? In my head I do. In Bible study time I do. When I fail? When I choose to be selfish? When I wish a thousand times I was different?

I don’t receive it very well. I push it away with questions, confusion, doubt. I must choose to receive by faith.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, (emphasis mine) Thessalonians 2:16 NHEB

Grace gave me comfort and hope. They are given. They are available. I must take hold. I must choose comfort. I must choose hope.

God has freely given, so freely that I may leave His gifts sit on my shelf unused forever.I choose to open His gift of grace. I take down from the shelf again.

Do you struggle with freely receiving grace?

Do you struggle to freely give grace?

What is Grace Anyway?

I felt the word God gave me to meditate on this year was grace. I was really having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. I have heard the GRACE acronym God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, but that didn’t seem to cover it.

I went to Webster’s 1828 as I love to do. I found grace is a noun, something we can have and give. Webster’s definitions include: kindness; the free unmerited love and favor of God; Favorable influence of God; The application of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. A state of reconciliation.

It is also a verb, something we do. Webster’s definition includes: To decorate; to embellish and dignify. To raise by act of favor; to honor. To supply with heavenly favor.

Honor, favor, dignify. I like the sound of that. Still something seemed to be missing.

I did a search of scriptures for grace. The first thing I noticed are all the different ways grace is used. This was helpful. One word used for many things.

The first place grace is used is:
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  Genesis 6:8 KJV
It says “found grace” this phrase is only used in the Old Testament. So grace is a thing, one can find it.
Next is “obtained grace”.
And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esther 2:17 KJV

The phrase “find grace” is found once in the NT.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 KJV
There is a throne of grace. Grace is sought and found with both God and man. Grace is given, poured out, shown. See Ezra 9:8, Psalm 45:2

Reading the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) entry about grace shed more light on why grace is hard to get a hold on. The term is used in many ways including:

  • giving favor and the gratefulness that arises from being favored
  • grace is power, almost synonymous with Holy Spirit
  • in the Greek culture grace was almost only used to mean unmerited favor

I think I am most intrigued by grace being power and synonymous with Holy Spirit.

Reading in The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible I found that grace is made up of letters that mean life or continues and wall. So grace is a continuing wall. Neat! It was used for the wall surrounding the camp. “Within the walls is the family clan, a place of freedom, compassion and beauty.” What a beautiful picture of grace! And I have found a new book I love to read.

So what is grace anyway? My definition for now: “a place of freedom, compassion, and beauty surrounded by an unending protective wall.”

What have you learned about God’s grace?

How have you experienced God’s grace?