Yesterday morning I was able to have a much-needed time of refreshment. Aaron was able to hang out with Cedar at home so Genoa and I headed to Trader Joe’s for our biweekly grocery shopping trip. It’s about an hour away, and without her older brother to distract her, Genoa quickly fell asleep and slept the entire way to the store. I took advantage of not having to answer a bunch of toddler questions and listened to some music (it’s not often that I actually get to listen to music…other mamas of young children with exploding vocabularies will understand why!). I put the iPod on shuffle and waited with anticipation to see how God would use it. It may sound silly, but many times the Lord has used “randomly” shuffled songs to show me things and teach me lessons. This time was no different.
After a couple songs had played, Derek Webb’s “The Church” came on. This is an incredible song about how the Church is “a harlot and a whore”, yet she is still our Father’s bride and, as the chorus states, “if you love Me, you will love the Church”. I’ve always been very convicted by this song because I often get frustrated with the state of the Church today, but I need to be reminded that she is still God’s bride. But this time, as I was softly singing along, I had the realization that I am a part of that Church as well…and as such, I too am a harlot and a whore in relationship to God. And it’s true. How many times have I been unfaithful to my heavenly Lover and sought fulfillment in things other than Him? But…there is always grace. That’s what prompted those tears that made my voice break while singing along in the car. No matter how many times I take my eyes off of Jesus, no matter how many times I fail, He will welcome me back with open arms. Hallelujah.
As the different shuffled songs played during the rest of my morning, and as I was really able to listen to the words, this emphasis on grace continued. On the drive down there was Caedmon’s Call playing their rendition of “Thy Mercy My God“, and on the drive back, Sandra McCracken sang the same song. There was Andrew Peterson’s line about “into the wild of this grace” (from his song “The Magic Hour”) and Josh Garrel’s reminding me that “we’re all castaways in need of rope” and that “even when I fall I’ll get back up for the joy that overflows my cup” (from “Farther Along“). And Sons of Korah asking, from Psalm 116b, “How can I repay the Lord for all of His goodness to me?”.
Along with this song-prompted realization, grace is something that the Lord seems to constantly be teaching me about. It touches every aspect of my life. The book I’m currently reading is called Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and even though I’m only through the first two chapters, it has already been one of the best parenting books I’ve ever read. Our Father has shown us so much grace, and we need to show the same to our children (though that grace is always combined with truth as Jesus came full of “grace and truth” [John 1:17]).
Another book on my to-read stack is Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman. Recommended to me by a friend, it sounded right up my alley since my entire life I’ve struggled with accepting grace from God and others and trying instead of do it all on my own.
Last year too, with reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and receiving her message of eucharisteo and that “all is grace”, it seems that grace is something that God wants me to focus on. Seeing grace in the everyday and realizing that all the gifts He gives are just extensions of His grace. And after recognizing my Father’s amazing grace to me, viewing all others through that grace-filled lense.
And so, I’ve taken “grace” as my word for 2012. Several different bloggers that I read and respect and am often encouraged by, after much prayer and thought, pick a word that becomes their theme for the year. Being a word person, I always thought that was great idea, but never really thought to do it for myself. For me, it wasn’t after a lot of prayer and thought — it happened in a couple song-filled minutes driving a car with a sleeping baby. But I really feel that grace needs to be my theme for 2012. And so it will be…and who knows where God will take it?! I’m excited to see.
Grace to you.