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Archive for January, 2013

My grandson was two months from his twentieth birthday. He was ready to fly the coop and be on his own. All his buddies were doing it. He had saved up enough money to pay rent for two months plus a rent deposit. The only problem was that he had recently lost his job and if he did not secure a new one in a month or so, he would face eviction.

Grandpa and I had finished off a new room for him, when his mama died – furnished it with all the amenities – lights, carpeting, heating, air conditioning, furniture, and a TV. But, independence was wooing him and none of the creature comforts of home held any value. Moving out before finding a job made no sense to a rational mind, however, rationality held no value either.

After several “warmed” discussions on responsibility and finances, he was still adamant about leaving. I could tell we were losing ground in our determination to maintain logic, but we held one last trump card, the money. Our grandson had placed his money in our bank account so as not to be tempted to spend it and now he needed our signature to withdraw it.

I wrestled with the idea of allowing our not quite grown grandson to face possible failure. I thought about his ongoing struggle with the death of his mother, three years prior. It did not seem like he was ready for this decision. On the other hand, there comes a time when we all must grow up and face our personal giants. Did my reaction to his much desired independence represent unhealthy control or was it loving protection? I remembered how my parents had extended grace to me, freeing me up to make my own mistakes when I was about his age.

I spent countless hours talking with my husband, praying about how to proceed, and staying awake nights. Things finally came to a climax when our grandson stood in our kitchen and demanded his money. We reluctantly agreed to release the funds to him the next day, funds that were rightly his.

However, I was still agitated and uncertain in my spirit about the wisdom of all of this. As soon as our grandson left the house that day, I went to my bedroom to vacuum. I furiously moved the wand across the carpet as though I wanted to suck every thread of it up into the machine. I was angry and deflated; I had clearly failed to get through. Never the less, at that moment, God extended His grace to me through this providential thought:

“God is releasing him out from under my care. Now, I must release him to God!”

Yes, our loving Heavenly Father does that with each of us. Because He has given us a free will, He releases us, but extends His preveniant grace to us while we are still too immature to understand His love. He allows us to go our own way in anticipation of the day when we will finally come to the end of ourselves and turn to Him. God loves our grandson more than we do and He knows exactly what will cause him to return. As his grandparents, we needed to extend grace to him and release him to the One who knows and loves him more perfectly than we do.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8


 

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Long ago, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions because it seemed that before the first month of the year had passed, I had broken my resolutions and returned to my old ways. Experts tell us it takes three weeks to break a habit. While it may be true that it takes three weeks to stop a destructive pattern in a physical sense, it takes much longer to stop the false belief system, which is the root cause of it. Mental health therapists tell us that people treated for and freed from an addiction will readily transfer one addiction for a different one if their basic belief system is not altered.

To make a lasting change, I must admit there is a problem; discover what God says about it in His Word, desire to change; ask God for help; stop the habit; renew my thinking process and belief system; and fill the time and space taken up by that habit with a Godly thought or action.

For example, if I want contentment and joy to fill the areas where I am complaining I must first face the fact that complaining is a sin. I must have a strong desire to change because I know that it is not pleasing to God. Most likely, I will discover that complaining is embedded so deeply in me that I am not even consciously aware of all the subtle ways I complain. Therefore, I will need help from the Holy Spirit to point these areas out to me. Then, every time I complain, I must ask God to forgive me and then I might list something for which I am thankful to fill that time and space with a Godly thought or action.

One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, began writing a blog listing ordinary things for which she was thankful. The blog turned into a book, One Thousand Gifts.[1] This led to a second book, One Thousand Gifts Devotional.

In her second book, Ann writes the following:

“A friend dared me to start counting one thousand things I loved. I took the dare, accepted the challenge, kept track of one thousand things, one thousand gifts – one thousand graces – on a quiet, unassuming blog. Before I knew it, thankfulness to God began to fully change me.”[2]

Anne’s two books are most inspiring, but the greatest miracle that emerged from her exercise in thankfulness was the ushering of God’s marvelous grace into her life. By listing one thousand things she was thankful for, God flooded Ann with gratitude and it fully transformed her.  God’s grace is most evident in changed lives, hearts turned toward their Creator, and bad habits and thinking patterns transformed into His thoughts and actions.


[1] VosKamp, Ann, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully right Where You are. (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI) 2010.

[2] VosKamp, Ann, One Thousand Gifts Devotional – Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces. Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI) 2012.

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