Sustaining Grace

The alarm hasn’t gone off yet. Eyes remain unopened. Movement begins in the mind.

Oh no, it’s morning already. I’m not ready for this day. I am so worn out. I can’t handle what may be ahead. Please not yet. No more twists or turns or setbacks or disappointments. This is just so hard.

Eyes blink open and quickly close. Just a few more moments of avoidance. Maybe even a short prayer for deliverance. Please Lord, take this away from me. Please Lord, make this better. Please Lord, bring resolution.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Grace.

Grace that is sufficient and sustaining.

Eyes wide open. The day begins.

My dear reader, how are you?

What circumstances are you facing?

Are there challenges? Are there transitions? Are there obstacles? Is there uncertainty? Is there heartache and disappointment? Have you been stretched and spread very thin? Are you feeling parched and depleted? Does there never seem to be enough to cover what you are going through? Are there conditions or situations that you wish you could completely avoid? Are those you love suffering or struggling with an intensity that makes you feel helpless or perhaps even hopeless?

Grace.

Grace that is sufficient and sustaining.

Relief. Support. Sustenance.

Enough to meet our needs.

In all of our lacking we need to turn to the Lord, the giver of sustaining grace. When we do, we will find ourselves blessed as we are embraced by God the Father, encouraged by the savior Jesus, and enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Embraced:

Even to our old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)

To be embraced is to be readily, fully, and gladly taken in. Both arms wrapped around you and pulled right into the heart. Welcomed, included, and encircled.

This is MORE than a quick hug. This is being held. It is the protective embrace which can draw us to a point of release. It is a posture of protection, affection, and adoration.

To be held by God the Father is to be drawn into His love for us. At any age, in any circumstances, no matter what we have done or where we have been, the arms of the Lord are spread wide for us to turn into.

Encouraged:

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” Matthew 4:4 (Message)

Sustenance that comes from the word of the Lord is life giving. It breathes peaceful hope into desperate situations that leave us gasping. It is the path to walk on when we feel trapped by temptation, cornered by circumstances, at what appears to be a dead end. It is the strength we need to do what is next before us despite the anxiousness over possible unknown outcomes.

Jesus gives us the life that we need to be sustained. He is the truth we can hold onto and put our hope in. His death on the cross, his sacrifice for our sins, made a way for us to have eternal life. The example Jesus gave us in the desert of temptations is that the word of God is there to give us courage when we are vulnerable; tired, lonely, ill, stressed, hurt, and broken.

To be encouraged is to give someone courage, to support them, and to build up a confidence within them. Being with Jesus creates a place to receive sustaining grace through relationship with Him and encouragement from Him. Jesus brings us out of isolation and into the robust fellowship.

Enabled:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

To be enabled is to be given power, strength, means, or opportunity. It is to have the capacity to continue in the callings that we have been given.

The Holy Spirit reminds us of the word of the Lord, guides us, counsels us, and convicts us. The Spirit can activate incredible giftings in us and help us to develop those gifts in a way that serves others in sustaining grace. This puts us in a position to be able to magnify the glory of the Lord.

Not only does the Holy Spirit bless us with an incredible inflow, the Spirit blesses us with an overflow. Not just sustaining grace but abundant life.

National Day of Encouragement

Today, September 12th, is the National Day of Encouragement. For the past 7 or 8 years I have eagerly anticipated this day and intentionally invested myself into an encouragement focused project for the duration of the day. My mission statement in life is to encourage with love, passion, and enthusiasm. It is a day to fully embrace and embody that mission.

This year I feel lacking in so many areas, especially in passion and enthusiasm. The only words that I keep hearing in terms of a project are, “share your story”.

I haven’t been writing much lately. And by lately I mean the last time I published a blog post was December 8th, 2021. I’ve been sketching and scribbling out ideas about the topic of Sustaining Grace for well over a month. Throughout the year I have drafted a smattering of things. I get started, but find myself swiftly winded and emptied after only forming a few sentences. I realize that my inconsistency has led to some severe atrophy.

I quickly become distracted by other things on my to do list and leave the writing in scribbles.

I have contemplated giving up the blogging. It’s only one part of the ways I encourage. I ponder if it has become outdated or ineffective and should just reallocate my resources elsewhere? But when I pray about it, I don’t get confirmation to stop.

I’ve been struggling with doubt, frustration, woundedness, and a whole pile of personal shortcomings. I definitely question what kind of encourager that I am, when I am missing the bar by so much. Sometimes it feels as if my life is one failure after another. I look around at the giftedness of others, who are doing so much good, shining so bright, in so many areas, and I feel even worse.

Then there are the times that I have been a discouragement and wounded others. I’ve been selfish, sharp, thoughtless, hardhearted, mean, and hurtful. I’ve ignored, avoided, been silent, insensitive, and spoken quickly in anger. I become fixated in one area and oblivious in another.

In short, I’m an extensively broken, massive mess.

So why press on? Two words…Sustaining Grace.

I need sustaining grace.

I need to be embraced by God the Father. His willingness to not only reach out to me, as I am, to heartily pull me into His heart in all my grossness is a blessing beyond measure. Being held by the Father is to be loved and accepted in a way that sees past all of the yuck. God takes all of the horrible side effects and symptoms willingly because He knows what the root cause is and He knows how to bring healing. There is affection and adoration in that embrace that flows from the love of the Creator. I need to fall into that embrace.

I need to be encouraged by Jesus. I need that word of life spoken to the swirling anxieties, fears, and misconceptions in my mind. I need the steady reminders of what the Lord has done for me and what He has already brought me through in this life. I need the help highlighting the plethora of blessings that I have held in my hands to be grateful for with thanksgiving. I need the courage to go where I am called, to do what I have been asked in obedient trust.

I need to be enabled by the Holy Spirit. I need a power and a strength that is beyond my meager means. I need to be in tune to the compassionate counselor so I am not stuck on the station of self-centeredness. I need assistance in sensing and committing to the opportunities that are presented to me one day at a time. Enabled to be grateful and joyful in all circumstances because the Holy Spirit is within me and around me always.

Sustaining grace. Embraced. Encouraged. Enabled.

This is my hope for all who read this today; may you be embraced, encouraged, and enabled.

May the National Day of Encouragement bless you with Sustaining Grace.

Prayer:

Beloved Lord,

Thank You so much for Your faithful blessing! Thank You for the generosity of Your heart on this day! Thank You so much for the sustaining grace to continue on.

Lord, please lavishly, abundantly, and generously bless all those who read these words today. Please interrupt their days and thoughts with Your goodness. Surprise them. Delight them. Bring them smiles and laughter. Bring them release and rest. Bring them provision and sustenance.

Lord, I ask that You would embrace, encourage, and enable everyone who reads this. May they find themselves steadied, supported, and strengthened by You. May You affirm their giftings and confirm the current calls that You have placed on their lives.

Only let sink in what is good, please bead up and wipe away what is unnecessary. Thank You so much for Your love and care.

In the holy and righteous name of Jesus, amen.

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