By Sandy Jones
Our grandmother was a lovely Southern Baptist lady who did her best to ensure that all of her grandchildren knew Who Jesus was, and how much He loved us. What she couldn’t prepare us for was coming to the realization of just how valuable His grace and mercy are to each and every one of us. That you have to figure out for yourself.
As I have shared in this column before, I accepted Christ as my Savior at Vacation Bible School at the ripe old age of 7.
When I was 19 Billy Graham brought his crusade to Boise, Idaho, and I renewed my commitment to God, and got baptized at the church I was attending.
And then life happened. I didn’t stay focused on Jesus, and much like the missionary dating we warn our teens about, I slid into a more secular lifestyle.
By the time I was 34 I was a divorced mom with two beautiful sons, and getting married for the second time. What I didn’t anticipate was the Lord moving Steve, my then fiancé, in a mighty way.
A month before we were to tie the knot Steve shared with me that we both knew better than how we’d chosen to live, and he strongly suggested that we find a church, and get our lives together. This is really where it all began.
Fast forward 26 years, and today I look back on so many memories and wonder who that other person was, she was so lost. Not to sound cliché but today, yes, I am found.
I am found in His Love, and blessed by His Grace and Mercy.
No I am not deserving, or worthy, but I am His because Jesus gave His life for me. I am a part of His family. If you’re reading this – I hope you are too.
I’ve been doing Francis Chan’s study called Jesus’s Farewell Message, and in the last session, Francis speaks to the fact that one of Jesus’ final prayers for His disciples AND us was for unity.
Pastor Chan quotes John 17:21-23 KJV, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent.”
Basically saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that by walking as the united Body of Christ, we would be living out Jesus’s message for all the world to see.
A friend and I were recently chatting and the question came up on how can we “set ourselves apart” as Christians and yet act so un-Christ-like, after all that’s not very uniting. To be honest, somedays I feel like I am the very worst at this.
I could cite time after time when I’ve fallen far short of how I’m called to behave. I know that I know that I’m supposed to show the love of Christ by being His Hands and Feet – even on the tough days.
I continually remind myself to show grace to others. The same grace that I expect Christ to give me. Yes, “expect” – isn’t that presumptuous of me? But I don’t think I’m alone in this. I say a quick “oh Lord I’ve messed up again, please forgive me” and go on, sure that’s all it takes to receive His grace and mercy.
I sometimes have to remind myself that I need to apologize to others when I’ve “messed up again,” and I have to accept when they aren’t as quick to forgive as Jesus, and rejoice when they do. Reminding myself of one of my favorite sayings:
Grace is getting something you don’t deserve,
while Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.
– Author unknown
The conversation with my friend has stuck with me. I remind myself more often that we never know what another person may be going through; and that employees don’t make policy if and when someone gives me an answer I don’t agree with, or the outcome is not what I had desired.
I have to remind myself that as a Christian, others look to me as an example of what Christ-like living is supposed to look like. In my family, in my extra-curricular activities, in the workplace – both as the business and the customer, literally everywhere I go. It is one of my prayers that my actions bring glory and honor to God, and don’t ever cause another person to fall.
I’m still unable to walk on water. I have many shortcomings. I’m far from perfect, and I certainly can’t wear the big “SC” t-shirt (super Christian). I’m just trying to do my best to not let situations in life keep me from doing what God has called me to do when He commanded that I love my neighbor as myself.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV
If you follow me on social media then you already know I promote “be the change you want to see in the world” frequently. I think that’s the only way it’s going to happen – is if each of us accepts that challenge every day, even the bad ones. Won’t you join me? Let’s make it happen!
Until next time…
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