Reflecting on Grace

My wife reminded me that it was about this time nine years ago that we first landed on Utah soil. The women-folk took Annie up to Silver Lake (which, according to Lucy, is not really silver), and I interviewed with the search team. Since those first interactions, I’ve learned a lot. But perhaps the most important lesson God has taught me simply reaffirms what I already knew, just not deeply enough. That is: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3). That “divine power” - that is, grace - is all we need, and it comes from the Word, prayer and fellowship with the saints.

When I say “The Word”, I don’t really mean “Bible study”. Bible study may be required, but only for the sake of something else: for hearing God speak through Christ. For experiencing what one Puritan called “seeing Christ clothed for us in the gospel”. I know I need the Word. But I learned I need the Word like a wandering, penniless traveler needs bread each day. That the normal Christian life is a daily fight to consume the spiritual nourishment that I find in being united to Christ himself. I AM in Him; so then, to abide in Him, and find my nourishment in Him - this is what I’m seeking more and more to experience, as I open my Bible* each morning and read.

And then pray. Again, I’ve always known this, but God has shown me again and again here: it happens after prayer. What has happened, or not happened, because I did or did not take time to ask for it? If I exist to glorify God, how much glory do I leave on the table of my prayerlessness? Thus I find myself more and more writing down my prayers, both to compose my thoughts well, but also to have a record, of where and how and when God answered. Because He does.

For me, and for you. Perhaps the sweetest piece of the last nine years has been the grace God has given through relationships with others. Through a weekly coffee rant; through transparency with a trusted friend; through terse conversations in disagreement . . . God uses all of it and more to shape us by His Spirit, in ways that He does not in Word and prayer. Even the thief on the cross needed the brief fellowship with Jesus to reassure him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

 

*Actually my iPad.