Resolutions and Grace… Can they co-exist?

It has been awhile since I had the time to put up a post, but I am excited to get back in the swing now that the holidays are over. At no other time of the year is the tyranny of the urgent versus the important more real than during the busy Christmas season.  Then just a week later we plunge into a few more days of festivities and, of course, a new year.

Many of us make resolutions during this time of year…  I want to present a concept you may not have thought of about making resolutions in this post.

The first definition in the dictionary for resolution is: “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. This is the possibly the only definition you have ever thought about when making resolutions, whether it be for a new year or a new season of life or just because a change is needed. It connotes making commitments, pledges and/or promise and being resolved to see them through. I believe that is why we grow weary of making resolutions based on this definition… There is no room for failure! It is up to us and only us to see to it that the resolutions come to fruition.

The second definition for resolution is more introspective and offers some grace to the resolver: “the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter”. Some concepts that go with this definition are to find/bring solutions, settlement or a conclusion to or for something. It gives room for planning, assessment and re-assessment.

As I read the Bible and study its precepts along with praying for God’s insight, wisdom and guidance… I am convicted of situations/attitudes/thoughts in my life that I need to resolve to change – through the strength of the LORD! I am so thankful it isn’t up to me to make it happen, and I am not going at it alone. It is the Lord and I…  I can lean against Him in full confidence that His guidance and strength will bring the resolution to fruition.

I mentioned that the second definition offers some grace to the resolver. A pledge or a promise don’t give any room for faltering, mistakes or do-overs. But, praise God, finding solutions, a settlement or a conclusion, requires time – and thus times of reflection, evaluation, re-evaluation and ongoing trust in the Lord to see the process through.

So, have I made any recent resolutions? Yes, but what a difference to find myself resting in the grace of the Lord to see the resolution come to completion… instead of getting to the end of the day and beating myself up that I have once again messed up on a resolution that I was relying on my own strength to fulfill.

I am so thankful that resolutions and grace CAN co-exist because I am trusting in the Lord to see the results.

 

 

 

 

 

Watching Each Step – That’s Walking in Grace

ThWalk-on-the-ICE1e weather has been unusually wet and icy in Colorado the last many weeks and I find myself struggling in the mornings to keep my footing as Sasha, our Australian Shepherd, and I take our daily walk.  I don’t have “shoe chains” like those in the picture…but my metal cleats that fit over my tennis shoes have been invaluable to me on many days.

It was during one of these treacherous morning walks, as I was studying each step carefully prior to putting my foot down, that I realized this is what God intends for us regarding walking in grace.  On the mornings I do not have to be cautious of ice, I can take each step quickly and rarely look down at what is right before me.  This is what makes a walk “exercise”.  These slow plodding walks afford me little cardio benefit.

…however, when it comes to our spiritual walk, I have begun to see the necessity to take each step carefully. I imagine that most everyone reading this post is basically just like me: living each day looking ahead several steps and not paying close attention to the step right in front of us.  What I mean, is that we lose the moments because of the hours and days filled with busyness and activity.  This busyness and activity might revolve around “good” things or, at the least necessary things – but, the fact still remains that we rarely live in the moment.

Grace shows up for us in the moment – not a second too soon or too late.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” –  II Corinthians 12:9a  Isn’t that exactly what we need?  To look at and study each moment to see God’s grace for us exactly when we need it, is like slowly studying where I put my feet when on ice.  Each step in life has the potential for being treacherous, and yet most of the time we bulldoze on trying to get ahead – “get some cardio workout” regarding our career, or our education, or a multitude of other things.  

On that particular morning’s walk, as this truth came to me, I found myself suddenly smiling…laughing; because God had revealed a great truth to me in the midst of acres of silver slick paths.   When I walk in the moment, looking for what God has for me in it – I find grace.  On the other-hand, when I run ahead – frantically thinking about all that has to be done – I get easily overwhelmed because grace didn’t make the run with me.  God doesn’t offer you grace for tomorrow, or even the next hour.  If he offered it in the future of what value would it be for the moment?  That would be like me saying to myself “I will put my metal cleats on after I slip several more times, and maybe fall and injure myself.”

God promises His grace is sufficient.  Do I believe that?  Do you believe that?  The way we begin believing in something is to take a step forward and see what happens.  Grace is metal cleats on bottoms of tennis shoes keeping us safe spiritually on this treacherous walk named LIFE.

“In Holy Array Out of the Womb of the Morning”

Sunrise-and-Clouds1I have been reading through the Psalms and admit I am completely captivated by this phrase along with the words that precede it.   The word picture Psalm 110:3 depicts in the Amplified version is so beautiful.  It reads “Your people will offer themselves willingly…in the beauty of holiness and in holy array out of the womb of the morning…”.

I have known for many years that followers of Jesus are to offer themselves to God.  But, this verse describes this offering in such vivid language that it has taken on a whole new meaning for me.  We are to offer ourselves willingly.  Why?  Because it is an offering.  Webster defines offering as “the act of an offer” and “offer” is defined as “to present as an act of worship or devotion”.   If we offer ourselves unwillingly it is not truly an offering because is it not an act of worship or devotion.  It is a contrived act, often with ulterior motives.

For me, the real elegance (if I can call it that) begins to unfold with the rest of the verse.  We offer ourselves willingly…in the beauty of holiness and holy array.  God is HOLY, but we are holy also as His followers – we are sinners, forgiven because of God’s mercy and grace.  We are clean and pure, spotless and holy.  Can you think of anything with more beauty than that?  But wait, it goes on with…and holy array.  What an incredible word to use here because it means “to dress or decorate especially in splendid or impressive attire”.   We offer ourselves willingly in holiness, because God has made us holy – AND that holiness is in the form of holy array.  We are dressed in holiness.  It covers us – decorates us, splendidly.

But there is more because that holy array is out of the womb…..  I have never thought of my offering to God in these terms before.  A womb is “a place where something is generated”.  This entails action.  Think about a babe in the womb.  There is constant activity as cells divide, entire blood systems form along with organs, hands and feet.  The “place where something is generated” in this verse is talking about the action of Jesus Christ being crucified, buried and resurrected from the dead in order to decorate us in  the splendor of holiness.

Finally, it is out of the womb of the morning.  Morning is the “first of beginning period of anything”.  This entire phrase has a circular motion to it!  We offer ourselves willingly, as holy offerings to God, dressed and decorated in splendid and impressive attire.  That impressive attire comes from God himself and it was generated in the womb that represents salvation – the action that was the beginning of our ability to be holy and thus offer ourselves willingly to God.