Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Hallway to Grace

On the way to work I was on the freeway and this arrogant guy cut me off. He came onto the freeway and cut across like four lanes and cut right in front of me. Then he pulled over into another lane and sped off as quick as lightning. Had to be some young jerk who thought he owned the road.

After work I was headed to get Jake from school and the car in front of me was going a good 15 miles an hour slower than the rest of traffic. Totally oblivious to the flow of traffic, the woman just drove at her own pace without any regard for the rest of us on the freeway. She had to have been too old to have had any business driving on the freeway. She was undoubtedly a menace- to herself and the rest of us.

But wait.

What if the guy in the morning was a young father who just got a call from his wife that their baby was sick? His wife was in a panic, the little one was having trouble breathing and she was begging him to meet her at the hospital right away.

And the woman. What if her car started to make a funny rattle just as she pulled onto the freeway. Elderly and frightened, she didn't want to get stuck on the freeway alone, so she was driving as slowly and carefully as possible just trying to get to the next exit, praying all the way.

The truth is, we don't know. But for me at least, my inclination is too often to assume the worst. I look at what I see on the surface, and I make assumptions like I shared in the initial descriptions of these common scenarios.

What about when these "freeway-type scenarios" happen in every day life? Maybe it's not in your car that you feel cut-off or disregarded, but rather in your "merging moments" in life. A friend cuts the conversation short when you call? A casual acquaintance doesn't acknowledge you when you cross paths in the grocery store. Someone passes you in the hall at church and doesn't say hello. Which direction do you go as you read into the situation?

Have your actions or intentions ever been misunderstood? Have you ever been denied the benefit of the doubt? It's not a very good feeling. I know how that feels, and yet I find myself so often guilty of denying others the same as well.

Is it a courtesy? A gift? I know for me, I hold onto it like a treasure. The truth is, I find it difficult to offer it to most. It's easier with strangers, or people I don't know well than it is with people I do. Why? What is it that makes us (me?) experts on others that causes me to hold back the benefit of the doubt. Why is the inclination to the negative?

Maybe it actually is deserving. Maybe often, even most often, people don't really deserve the benefit of the doubt. But you know what I have begun to realize? When I hold back the benefit of the doubt, I not only potentially harm the other person, but I harm myself as well. When I hold back the benefit of the doubt, it's as though I am shutting the door to grace.

I want to be a woman of grace. Someone once spoke a word of prophecy over me about "a posture of grace," and it has stuck with me, mostly because I know I'm not there yet. I want to be, but I'm not. But perhaps the "benefit of the doubt" is the key that opens the first door to a hallway that actually ends with me becoming a woman of grace.

This I know, there is far more freedom in assuming the best about others. Too often when I take hold of and dwell on a perceived offense, I weigh myself down just as much, if not more, than I attach a weight to the other person.

I know there's a risk. Assuming the best about others and giving people the benefit of the doubt- the treasure of it- opens the door to getting hurt, or being made a fool of. But it's a risk worth taking, because it's a choice of not only grace, but of love.

I do believe the hallway to being a woman of grace is long; and there are probably dozens of doorways along the way that will try to distract and deter me from the destination, but it's a start, and the key that opens the door to this path is simple- don't be so quick to judge, so quick to assume, so quick to decide- but rather, leave room for the grace, and in a loving way, CHOOSE to give others the treasure, the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe this post was just a good reminder for me, but maybe not.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:28-29

Monday, March 12, 2012



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Sunday, March 11, 2012

100 Verses - Week 26: Time & Money

How a person spends his time, and how a person spends his money says a lot about them. Open their datebook or their checkbook and you will quickly have a good idea of where their priorities lie. Both of our verses this week relate directly to God's instruction about these matters, time and money. It interests me how touchy people can get about these topics when it comes to church and religion. But this week's memory verses make t very clear that God really does have something to say about how we spend our time and money. But then again, why wouldn't He? They have so much to say about who we are.

Each person should do as he has decided in his heart-- not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7

I've heard this verse quoted before with the intention of making the principle of tithing obsolete. "...as he has decided in his own heart" is NOT license for ourselves to determine how we ought to obey and serve God. And truthfully, if it's your first thought to "go there," I would already take it as a sign that you are not in fact a "cheerful giver" if you are already looking for an out about how you ought to give. It's a sharp edge, don't get cut on it. Everything we have is God's to begin with, and He asks for it "back" not of His need, but out of our own.

It's for the good od our heart that God keeps us open handed with our goods, for the more tightly we grip things, the harder our heart has to work to beat the rhythm of God.

Likewise our time is not our own. And God intends that we spend it wisely, and with one another. So many people claim to be commando Christians, working alone, walking out our faith walks solo, and that was just never God's plan. There is strength in fellowship, and that's why God tells us to make it a priority.

Not staying away from meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25

"As the day approaches" refers to Christ's return, and if you do your homework, you know more and more people will fall away from the faith in the last days. It's called apostasy, and it's the reason why believers belong in a good Bible teaching fellowship, for growth, strength and accountability. We need to be together, worship, word and breaking bread for the good of our faith. And because God says so. So if you are not a part of a healthy congregation and actively attending and participating, I highly recommend you make some changes.

So as you are meditating and memrizing these verses this week, take sometime to consider, if someone got a look at your checkbook and your datebook, what would it tell them about you?

The 100 Verse Challenge is based on Robert J. Morgan's book "100 Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart."