Tag Archives: grace

The Gift

My mom has always told me, “Faith is a gift”.

I remember her saying this when I was young and then thinking, “Why do some people get the gift and other people don’t?” It didn’t seem fair.

As I’ve gotten older I have begun to see what she means.  Faith is a gift.

St. Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works so one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God’s grace is a gift.  Everyone gets the gift… but not everyone accepts it.

Accept the gift.

It’s not for some of us.  It’s for all of us.  God doesn’t give His gift to certain groups only.  He doesn’t favor the wealthy or the learned. He doesn’t give His gift only to the Baptists or the Catholics.  He doesn’t give grace only to white people or people who live in the United States.  He doesn’t discriminate.  We do but He doesn’t.

This is good news.  God’s grace does not depend on what I look like or how much money I have or if I sit in the front pew of church.  I don’t have to light candles or say the Rosary or give thousands of dollars to the church.   It doesn’t depend on me.  Thank God.  (Literally.)  Because I would really mess it up.  He doesn’t keep a tally sheet and then hand over grace to the “good” people.

Can you imagine if you actually had to earn your way into heaven?  Please.  There is no way to earn it and we don’t have to.  We just have to believe.

I think we tend to make things more difficult than they are.  Of course, there is more to living a life in Christ than just believing in Him.  But that is the first step.  I think we look for transformation first and then we say we’ll believe in God’s promises as in, “I’ll believe it when I see it”.  We stand back and say “prove it”, “show me”, “give me a sign” but we aren’t ready.  We have to say “yes” first and then the transformation starts happening.  If you want it, it’s there for the taking.  You just have to accept the gift.

If you haven’t yet accepted God’s gift of grace, take another look.

Imagine this… it’s Easter morning and you are really looking forward to the Peeps and the Reese’s Easter eggs and piles of jelly means and peanut m&m’s.  You see the basket and you realize that in addition to all the yummy stuff you can’t wait to eat, there is another gift.  It’s the gift of God’s grace.

The basket is filled with all of the things God’s grace brings to us including love, peace, joy, hope, mercy, forgiveness, redemption, new life.  Our baskets are overflowing!

You stop, you hesitate, you think, “Wait a minute, nothing is free, what do I have to do to get all of this?”

You question, you worry, you think…”Why me?” You wonder, “What’s the catch?”

There is no catch.  God loves you and wants to free you from your fears and worries.  He wants to give you a solid foundation to build your life.  He wants you.  You as you are now…not the “you” that is twenty pounds lighter or a million dollars richer, not the “you” that learns to cook or keeps a perfectly clean house or volunteers more often.  He’s not looking for the “you” that you show the world.  He’s looking for the real you.  He wants all your flaws, all your fears, all your sins, all your doubts.  He is that strong and that loving.

He is offering you a gift.  All you have to do is accept it.

 

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved
photo from: http://www.livingdevotionally.com.

Protection

There but for the Grace of God go I.

– John Bradford

I was in Chicago recently. 

I used to live there when I was in my 20s.

Now, in my 40s,  I see it in a whole new light. 

I kept thinking of the quote above. I guess as we get older, we become more intimate with our mortality.  We are not as brave (or clueless) as we used to be. I have no doubt angels were looking out for me throughout my life but I kept them especially busy in my 20’s. 

We were at the Vic for a concert.  I’ve been there many times for concerts and movies (Brew and View anyone?).  And now I want to say this: Thank you God for protecting me in the many crowded, dark places I frequented.  Thank you for getting me home safely.  I tested you.  I pushed my luck.  Thank you.

The bike riders were inches away from dying, cutting it close at every turn.  (Is this true or is it just my motherly perception?) Thank you God that I was never hit by a car or hit anyone with my car. 

Sitting there at the Vic, an overwhelming feeling of gratitude engulfed me.

I see it as a mother now.  Where I saw opportunity, now I see risk.  Where I saw fun and action, now I see danger and the unknown.  Where I saw freedom and escape, now I see chaos and a lack of boundaries.

So with my gratitude, Lord, today I ask for the ability to see like I’m young again.  To recognize that the need I had to experience the city may one day visit my children.  I may be driving their stuff down in a U-Haul for them to room with 6 girls in a one “bedroom” which looks a lot like a closet.  Give me the courage and the strength to let them go.  Not only to let them go but to encourage them to experience the fun, the action, the freedom and the escape that the city offers. 

You and your angels were strong enough to protect me.  I know you are not going anywhere.  I know you’ll be there when my kids are in their 20’s too… Right?

©2011 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved
picture of The Vic Theatre from flyingabruzzobrothers.com
picture of lincoln park street from chicago.ettractions.com

Amazing Grace

 

God is everywhere. He is in a sunset, a baby’s laugh, a cup of coffee with a friend, a kiss from your 1st grader, a hug from your husband or wife.  He’s in church, He’s on the beach, He’s with you walking the dog, He’s at work.  You may feel His presence or you may not.  Just because you don’t know He’s there or you don’t believe He’s there, doesn’t change the fact that He is there. 

 I went to a conference once and I heard a woman talk about God.  She said she found a lump and went in for a biopsy and then had to wait for the doctor to call her to tell her if she had cancer.  She said she kept telling herself, “Whether you get the news you hope for or the news you dread, God’s grace is the same.”  Then she repeated that same quote about three more times.  This was about 10 years ago and I have never forgotten it.

She said it with such conviction.  You could have heard a pin drop in the large arena filled with thousands of people.  I imagine everyone else was doing what I was doing… wondering if they could really believe those words if they were waiting for that same phone call.    

I’ve thought of these words of wisdom many times since then.  I’ve thought of them when I’ve gotten bad news.  I’ve thought of them when I’ve been waiting for the phone to ring.  I’ve thought of them when my friends have gotten bad news.  I’ve thought of them when people I love have died.  What I now realize is that even when I have changed, God has not. 

And now I believe…

On a good and sunny day, when all is well with the ones you love, God’s grace is the same.

When there is uncertainty in life, God’s grace is the same.

When all of your kids are safe and happy and healthy, God’s grace is the same.

When the world is literally turned upside down and the fear is debilitating, God’s grace is the same. 

When there’s good news of a new baby, a graduation, a promotion, God’s grace is the same.

When the night is dark and your heart is heavy with worry and doubt, God’s grace is the same. 

When I’ve made a mistake and I need to be forgiven, God’s grace is the same.

When someone I love has died, God’s grace is the same. 

Whether you get the news you hoped for, or the news you dread, God’s grace is the same.

Amazing Grace (Click on link to hear Amazing Grace)