Ephesians 2:4-5, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
I have been reminded once again of God’s grace in our lives, first through my devotions this week, then from items belonging to Mrs. Murrell and my daddy, and finally from conversations with past students.
Several of my devotions this week focused on God’s grace and the significance of God’s grace. The words from my devotions and from Scripture really spoke to my heart, and this is my takeaway, “Grace releases supernatural strength to help us through pain and suffering. Grace echoes in our spirit that God is with us to be our friend and Savior. Grace keeps pointing us to God’s goal for us. Grace reminds us that our Father enables us to become stronger in faith and in our relationship with him. Grace assures us that God is in control and sets limits on what we can become. Grace awakes our faith with conviction that God will see us through whatever the trial is. Grace is His favor, His blessing, and His kindness. God’s grace can be found in His beautiful sunrises and sunsets, His grace can be found in the smiles we meet every day, His grace can be found in the words of a gospel song and in His Word. His grace can be found in relaxing moments surrounded by God’s glorious creations in nature, fun, laughter, and camaraderie with friends and family. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sins deserve. God’s grace is everywhere we are, whenever we need it, and it carries us through. God’s Grace just IS!”
This week I came across an old hymnal that belonged to my husband’s parents, and even though I have looked at it before, this week I looked at it with a different view. As I looked through the hymnal, I found several songs that had been marked with a turned down corner, as if marking its significance or special meaning for them. Each song that was marked brought back memories of my own childhood, but also sweet memories of my mother-in-law and how much she enjoyed singing praises to our Lord and Savior. “Victory in Jesus” “In My Heart There Rings a Melody” “In the Garden” “Leave it There” “Never Give Up” and “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” However, one song was marked with a turned down corner and a piece of paper folded into the crease of the page, with one word written on it, “Grace.” This song made me stop and thank God for the gentle reminder, “Grace Greater Than All Our Sins.” How truly remarkable is God’s timing and Grace.
I also found my daddy’s bible which was given to him in 1936 by his aunt, he would have been 11 years old. It is worn, and the cover is falling off, but it is a treasure. His handwritten notes can be found throughout the bible, and those handwritten notes make his bible irreplaceable. Through the wear and tear it is obvious that a lot of time was spent in God’s word, the handwritten notes speak of the thoughtfulness and reverence he held for God’s word. Several notes in the bible reference God’s grace and forgiveness.
However, the words that spoke to my heart most were the words he had written in the front cover. Such an eloquent description of God, with such beautiful adjectives and words that I would love to be able to speak with my father once again and ask him about this description of God. In the front cover of his bible, he referenced Psalm 139 first,
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book, they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men. For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”
Then he wrote, “God is eternal. He is the Great I Am. He is absolute limitless, sovereign, independent, universal, eternal, self-existent, transcendent, perfection of perfectness, reason and explanation of all enigmas; uncaused cause of all causes, antecedent of all perfectness, the effulgent beam scattering all darkness, the invisible All swathing of all creation in the radiance of his glorious perfection, the origin and supply of all life. God is free, intelligent, Holy, wise, loving, merciful, good, just, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Paul preached that God is a person, the sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth, unlimited. He dwelleth not in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24), self-existent (Acts 17:25), the source of life and being. God is a God of personal presence. God is essential to our being. (Acts 17:25-28) God is Man’s sustainer. (Psalm 3:5, 55:22)” (My daddy referenced R.G. Lee as the author of these words. Dr. R. G. Lee was an exceptional biblical scholar.)
Even though my daddy did not write these words himself, they had to have special meaning for him to handwrite them in the cover of his bible. The descriptions of God just spoke to my heart amid this week of focusing on God’s grace, just listen to words and let them speak to your heart. “Perfection of Perfectness”, what better way to describe God and His Grace and Love for us. Perfection of Perfectness! “The effulgent beam scattering all darkness.” I had to look up the definition of effulgent, and thought how perfect – ‘shining brightly, radiant.’ God does shine bright, He is radiant, and he does scatter away the darkness from our lives. His Grace and His Love shine bright in our lives through our faith in Him. The phrase that really spoke to me though was “the invisible all swathing of all creation in the radiance of His glorious perfection.” Just an absolutely beautiful description of God and His presence, His perfect presence in our lives.
Then I was reminded of God’s grace from past students and the trials of life they are going through, and yet they do not let the trials stop them from moving forward and turn away from their faith. Once again, the students have taught this old, retired teacher a thing or two about God, His Grace and Mercy, and his presence in our lives. Recently I had a conversation with a past student who has had several obstacles in her life over the last couple of years, and instead of using them as an excuse to give up, she kept her faith in God, and overcame. She is a senior in high school, and has just been accepted into three colleges, and with a smile on her face, she looked at me and said, “I don’t know the reason for my cancer, my surgeries, and everything else I have gone through, but I do know that God has a plan for my life, and he isn’t finished with me yet. He has great things planned for me.” All I could think of was, “You are so right! God’s grace and mercy have been with you every step of the way, and he has a plan for you. I can’t wait to see what you do and where you go in the name of our Lord and Savior.”
Then other memories came crashing through of sweet, innocent conversations I have had with my grandsons over the years about God. They are both such a blessing in my life and over the years I have been able to spend time with them through Vacation Bible School and other moments where God was there, true God-moments.
During VBS one year, they asked the children to draw or write on posters some way they saw God today. Brayden’s sentence, “It isn’t just today, but God gave me my family because he loves me so much!” During the lesson, they also asked the children what having courage means, and Brayden’s response was, “When something really scares you, but you are brave and do it anyway.” This led to another conversation with Cooper on the ride home, about the lesson that God gives us courage when we need it most. Cooper asked me if God had ever given me courage, and I said “Honey, most definitely, so many times.” “When, Grammy?” “Oh honey, more times than I can remember, but when Uncle Patrick’s daddy died, when changes in my life happened.” And in his innocence, he responded, “I just want him to give me courage during the next thunderstorm. They really scare me, Grammy.” They really do scare him. So, that night I prayed that God would give him courage to face those storms.
Then there was another VBS when we were collecting pennies to send to other countries so they could have clean water. Cooper and I had the following conversation on the way to the church,
Cooper, “Grammy, why are we doing pennies all the days?”
Me, “Because we are trying to help children have clean water.”
Cooper, “Who is going to take the clean water to the children? God?”
Me, “No, we will send some people and God will go with them.”
Cooper, “Can’t God go by himself? “
Me, “Well, yes God can go by himself, but he likes to go with us, sort of inside of us protecting us and helping us!”
Cooper, “Are you serious?”
Me, “Yes, I am very serious! God is always with us!”
Cooper, “I thought so!”
And then there was the moment when Cooper and I were riding home from his school one afternoon, and after a few minutes in the car, out of the blue he says, “Grammy, what do you think it would be like if we could see God right here in front of us?” (Inside, I am still trying to figure out where this conversation came from.) I responded, “I haven’t thought about it, Cooper, but I am excited to see him when I get to Heaven!” He said, “I know, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could see him now? ” “Yes, it would Cooper, it would be great. Why were you thinking about that?” He responded, “Sometimes, I dream about God, and he is sitting in a big chair moving the clouds and starting the rain. It is so cool to watch him in my dreams, I just want to see him.” I asked him what God looks like in his dreams and told him I always imagine him as being big, having long hair, and a beard. He just laughed, and said, “I really don’t know what he looks like in my dreams, I am too busy watching him play with the clouds and the rain.”
Then one night when Cooper was small and spending the night with us, I had just finished reading a Bible story with Cooper, and he said “Grammy, do you need to talk to God?” Amazing! I said yes, I do. He looked at me and said, “I tell mommy all the time she needs to talk to God.” Out of the mouths of babes, yes, we need to talk to God all the time.
So, after a week of focused devotions, a lot of time in God’s word, treasures found from loved ones, conversations with students, and memories of conversations with my grandsons, once again I am reminded of God’s grace, His love for me and His creations. I am reminded that without Him my life would be dark and empty. I am reminded that God is even there with our children, when they are going through difficult times, he is touching their hearts and minds, letting them know, even at such an early age, that He is ever-present in their lives. He is walking with them, He knows what they are facing, He understands, and He will carry them when the road gets rough. What a comforting thought – My God is amazingly strong and always there!
What better way to close this blog than to use the words of the song I remember singing many times as a small child. A song that my mother-in-law marked in her hymnal with a simple turned down corner and a piece of paper with the single word, Grace, written on it. A song referenced in my daddy’s bible, “Grace Greater than Our Sin”
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide;
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
What marvelous grace is the Grace of our Lord and Savior!
Exodus 34:6, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,”