𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞... 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐄𝐱𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐞

I stopped at the door and turned back to ask, "I forgot to ask how much I owe you for the book." He assured me, "It was my treat. Don't worry about it." I opened my mouth to argue but before a sound came out, he stopped my resistance with one word: "Grace." I bit my lip, took a deep breath, said "Thank you," and smiled - in that order. He smiled back and said, "You're getting better."   
He knew God had been working on me the past few months about my pride and he had graciously joined the fight. One Sunday, his message about God's forgiveness had struck me when he pointed out that refusing to accept God's forgiveness is akin to setting ourselves above God. If we refuse to forgive ourselves or claim that our sin is too great for Jesus's blood to cleanse then we're saying God is wrong. We're saying the power of our sin is greater than the power of God's grace. 
Whoa - that struck me. I'd never thought of it that way and I said so to Pastor after the service. He extrapolated the idea to accepting help from our family or friends in the community. I squirmed... he smiled. 
Giving is fun. We've all been on the donor side and we know the joy it gives us within, so why are we so determined to not accept help? Why are we so determined to not be the source of that joy for others around us? Pastor told us to think of children - they think nothing of accepting assistance from their parents or really anyone grown-up. Jesus told us to be like the children. We as adults take a lot of pride in being able to do things on our own, and it's just that - pride. God created us to be a community people, helping each other and working together. He created us to thrive in a synergic lifestyle. Think of your closest relationships - give & take is an integral part of it. We all know that one-way friendships are unhealthy so why are we so slow to accept gifts? It's a natural part of growing relationships. And God wants us to grow our relationships with all His children, not just with the ones with whom we're already comfortable. 
Grace is so much more, though. It's not just about accepting forgiveness or other forms of assistance. It's about accepting His strength through all of life's trials. My daughters came back from a trip and my oldest one looked at me and said, "[My sister] was really trying my nerves but you would have been so proud of me! Instead of snapping at her, I took a deep breath and thought, 'Grace,' and I was able to stay calm!" I overheard her little sister a few days later, when homework was giving her trouble and I could tell she was beginning to feel frustrated, take a deep breath and whisper, "Grace," then a few minutes later, "Mommy! It worked! I was ohsmost (𝘴𝘪𝘤) ready to give up but I used God's Grace and I got through it!" 
I've been looking around my community and I'm just overwhelmed at the grace I see in action. I needed to do work on my house so friends pitched in and knocked out half my to-do list without waiting on direction from me. A friend needs a place to stay so another friend offered to give her the spare room. Someone was being picked on at school so my daughter made an effort to befriend her. A friend was in the hospital so I picked up her kids and kept them for a day (See! I get to give, too!). 
I could go on and it's hard to stop because already I'm thinking of examples of Grace that I want to list but I think I've made the point. I'll make one more point along these lines, though. The other day I was requesting help on an ongoing project by delegating sections of it out to volunteers. One friend emailed me, "Laurie, You know you can count on me. I'll let everyone input first though. Whatever is left, more than willing to help out there." Those words "You know you can count on me" spoke more to me than the offer to help itself. Those words spoke of the history of our friendship, of grace given and received so many times that we rest comfortably in it. We know it's available and we know it's graciously given and received.  
That is the power of Grace. That, I believe, is what God wants for the interactions between His children and that's what we can expect from His Grace. "Child, you know you can count on Me." We have a friendship, a relationship, a bond with our Christ that never runs out, that is always given graciously, and that we can rest assured will always be there. We can comfortably rely on that certainty. 
Whatever is your struggle, I know that Grace is the answer. Because Jesus is always the answer. His plan may not be what you thought it was but it's greater. He is loyal, He loves you, He forgives you, and He is with you always. Let His Grace work in you. 
"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 2 Corinthians 13:14, NIV
𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞... 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐄𝐱𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐞
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