Monday, January 24, 2011

Grace Alone

January seems to be the month of moving.  First it was a move to the ends of the earth eastern Missouri to spend a semester of training at Child Evangelism Fellowship's Children's Ministries Institute.  Then it was starting classes at Cornerstone Bible Institute and having to make the drive in sub-zero South Dakota weather to move back into a dorm (times two years in a row).  This year I'm moving back east with a baby and husband and a queen-sized mattress.

I was thinking about each of these moves this morning and the similarities and differences between them.  As far as similarities are concerned, each move has been related to continuing down a path of formal education.  Each move has been about getting more engaged in a vocation of ministry.  Each move has been right before my birthday.  And, each and every time, it has been freezing cold.. (I'm wondering when we're going to spend a January move heading toward the West coast.  Monterey, anyone?)

And there are some differences about this move that are significant.  I am now packing for three people instead of just one.  My life routine will remain primarily the same as life in Nebraska (being wife-y and mommy) while Steve goes back to school.  Instead of moving to a dorm life where others are in the same transitional boat, I'm moving into a house in a rural town where people are engaged in the same everyday activities that have occurred for years.  (No ice-breaker game nights or school cafeterias around here.)  There isn't any person in a position above us to pick up the slack when we fail: we're the grown-ups now.  I feel very, very small.

Our first week has been challenging as we face the uncertainties of job hunting and the Bronco being an absolute pill and waiting for the house to be ready for us to move into.  It's been hard feeling like we're in limbo without a clear direction.  I have this insatiable desire to Do All the Things and that's just not possible at this point.  Steve and I  are both experiencing moments and hours of down-in-the-dumps in which our brains feel foggy and we just can't see anymore.  We are both terrified of messing up.  Then I hear from my family about the serious health struggles my grandad is facing and the uncertainty and stress that it brings.  It's weird and depressing.

But it was so encouraging to go to church yesterday and hear the Word of God and remember that He is faithful to that Word and the promises that He makes.  It was good to remember that He is still working out His sovereign will in this world and even though we feel like we are just a blip in this ocean of flat Illinois whiteness (yes, it has snowed and snowed and snowed here) that He hasn't forgotten about us.  He won't forget about us.

We sang this song in church yesterday morning:

Every step of faith we make to move is by His grace.  Each time we think hopefully and joyfully about the future is by His grace.  Every chance we take to get to know people is by His grace.  Every good-supportive-wife thought or action that I take is by His grace.  Each opportunity to serve Him and each other is by His grace.  It's a tremendously humbling truth because we can't claim any of the fame for ourselves.  All of the glory goes to God.  At the same time, it's a wondrously empowering truth because He supplies all of our spiritual, physical, and emotional needs with His abundant goodness and grace.  This is the truth that I must preach to myself and allow His Word to preach to me when we are facing a large and looming world.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.   
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
      “ For Your sake we are killed all day long;
       We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:26-39, New King James Version)

May Jesus Christ be praised!