Thursday, September 6, 2007

Grace Happening People in Review

Over the summer months, I used the anagram, “Grace Happens,” to talk about characteristics of “Grace Happening People.” Each week we’ve looked at on letter, one quality, but today, I want to give you the bird’s eye view of the richness of being a grace happening person.

Galatians 6:2-5: Paul instructs us to “carry each other’s burdens.” Like a pair of oxen, we are to walk side by side with another to help each other bear the unbearable.

Rascals (sinners) embrace their inner-rascal when they accept God’s forgiveness and love as a gift. God loves rascals and uses them to convey his grace to others.

Acceptance and Affirmation: When we accept and affirm the flawed nature of ourselves and others, grace draws us toward God and into fellowship with one another. Our flaws are humbling opportunities that lead us ever deeper into God’s amazing love!

Christ: When we truly comprehend that God created us in his own image, it’s as if God replaces our smudged and scratched lenses with crystal clear lenses. We are then able to see the reflection of Christ in ourselves and others and we minister to others as if we are serving Christ himself.

Empathy has been described as the ability to “walk in another’s shoes.” Judging comes easy to us, but Grace Happening people realize that we all “fall from grace” from time to time. As my mama used to say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” and step forward shod in the soft soled shoes of empathy.

Humor: Billy Graham said that “a keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.” Laughing Matters magazine, encourages us to “jest for the health of it” and to jump-start our creativity via the “HAHA-AHA” connection. Humor is a preventative for “hardening of the attitudes,” an enhancer of learning, and helps build resilience so we can get better “smileage” on life’s journey.

Attentiveness: Douglas Steere, a Quaker leader, said, “To ‘listen’ another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.” It never ceases to amaze me how healing and empowering it is just feeling listened to. To have someone sit quietly, eyes focused on you, encouraging you to share your heart is an incredible gift of grace.

Patience: Just as eager tourists hurry along the Trail Ridge Road to reach the alpine tundra, we travel our own daily “trail ridge roads” at break-neck speed, trying to make it through yet another day —and ultimately miss the view along the way. Nature teaches us that life is a process in which all of us—the good, the bad, and the ugly—must weather storms, dry spells, and infestations. Knowing and accepting this, we are better able to stand steady and go with the flow of life’s changing seasons—and to stand alongside others and lend our steadiness to them.

Planting Seeds: We all sow seeds in the lives of others: seeds of hope, encouragement, appreciation, gratitude, forgiveness…or seeds of criticism, discouragement, doubt, fear, cynicism. Life can be difficult and frustrating, but we keep on sowing, season after season, because we rely on the Master Gardener during both times of bountiful harvest and the devastation of crop failure.

Encouragement: Just as my friend’s mom accepted her son’s encouraging embrace to ski her safely down a Colorado ski slope, we need to lean into the guiding arms of God’s Son and accept his firm hold on us, and, in turn, offer our own encouragement to others.

Nudge of God: When I was a grieving mother, God nudged me via Mourning Song, an amazing book written by a grieving mom whose story brought me comfort and encouragement. How does God nudge you?

Sparrow: Jesus compares us to sparrows: “not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father…Not one of them is forgotten by God.” If God cares this much about a mere sparrow, just think how very much he cares about us!

G-r-a-c-e H-a-p-p-e-n-s…
… in the lives of Grace Happening People!