“Grace mercy and peace from God the Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”
These were the words the pastor at the church I grew up in uttered at the beginning of every sermon, every Sunday, for as far back as I can remember. Even as a young child, I admired the phrase. There was something so comforting and familiar about the words. It was like an utterance of God’s love reaching out to me. It wasn’t a benediction, but rather an invitation to sit back and soak in that love. The dust dancing through the sunshine mesmerized me as I settled into the creaky pew ready to hear the message that would encourage, inspire and, hopefully, remind me of how much I was loved.
But though I appreciated the words, I’m not sure that as a child I truly understood their significance, or even their meaning. In fact, until I stumbled upon them again the other day, I really hadn’t given much thought to the phrase, grace, mercy and peace. In the past, I thought of that phrase as a sort of holy greeting—a religious hello you might say, but nothing more.
But the neat thing about God’s word is that it’s always teaching us, always training us, always leading us into new knowledge. So, the other day, when I read these words in 2nd Timothy, I gained a new understanding and appreciation for the phrase: grace, mercy and peace.
To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2nd Timothy 1:2 )
In two days, I will begin not one, not two, but three master’s level courses. To say that I am a bit worried would be an understatement. In a summer session, the content of a semester is crammed into six short weeks and, for me, that intensity will be multiplied times three.
While I’m not sure how it’s going to go, here’s what I do know. God’s grace is there for me. He’s going to be there to help me through the difficult days ahead. His mercy will be there, even when I mess up or feel I haven’t done something well. And maybe, most importantly, his peace is there for me.
You see, I don’t think God wants me to be a nervous wreck over this situation. I don’t think he wants me to be afraid. I think he very much so wants me to trust him and rest in his perfect peace.
Grace, mercy and peace. That’s what God has to offer us each and every day of our lives. Grace for the difficult moments, mercy for when we’ve screwed up, peace to guard our hearts and minds and keep us focused on the truth—the truth that we are deeply and dearly loved and that nothing can every separate us from that love. (Romans 8:38)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what God was teaching me about stress, What God's Teaching Me About Being Stressed Out. That was when I was preparing a big project for the class I was taking. I think I’ll take a cue from those days and remember that stressing out is not of God. Trust is. Faith is. May you remember that as well in the days ahead. No matter what you’re facing, may God’s grace, mercy and peace be yours in abundance. Amen.
Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
The following is a post that I wrote a few years back about how hard it is to have faith in a God we can’t see, in a God who speaks to us primarily through his word. I do feel the fool at times for believing in things I can’t see, but after all crazy faith is what life is all about.
My family is going through some major changes right now. I’ll be sharing a little bit more about that next week. For now, let me just say that I wish God would have given us a road map for this thing we call life.
In the past few months, there have been many times when I’ve wished that a little map of my life would miraculously fall from the sky. That way when I came to a fork in the road, I would know the right way to go—the thing God wanted me to do.
But whether I believe it or not, God is there to guide me in all types of situations and circumstances.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Still, I do wait for the day when that map of my life falls from the sky and shows me the right path to choose each and every time I come to a fork in life’s road. It would make things so much easier if I had that map. But then again where’s the fun in knowing where to go next?
October 3rd, 2012
Once traveling it's remarkable how quickly faith erodes. It starts to look like something else-ignorance, for example. Same thing happened to the Israelites. Sure it's weak, but sometimes you'd rather just have a map.
From Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.
Reading an awesome book right now and came across this quote. The book is actually fictional although it sounds like a religious book. Intriguing story. Mostly, I wanted to quote this author because what he wrote struck a particular chord with me today. I feel the pain the character in this story is experiencing. How often I feel the fool for believing in things I can't see, things that make no sense.
Even though I can "talk the talk" when it comes to faith it's much more difficult to "walk the walk." I had to smile when I read that "sometimes you'd rather just have a map" comment. I feel that way often. God why can't just spell it out in plain language, what exactly do you want me to do?
Not only do I wish he'd give me explicit instructions about how to live, but sometimes I have a hard time believing everything he says. I do feel naive. I do feel the fool. What craziness to believe in a Maker, a God who created everything out of nothing. Sounds more like a bedtime story than a place to lay a foundation of faith.
It’s then that I realize more than anything that what I'm suffering from is not a lack of faith, but a vain desire to appear more sophisticated, wise, intelligent to the world. I don't want to be the one that everyone thinks is a "little over the top" when it comes to things of God.
Oh, how fickle the human heart. Not hard to see when I look at my own. Of course, to say that my faith is always shifting with the winds of change isn't exactly accurate either. God has brought me quite aways in this journey of faith. But I find that with a more deeply rooted faith come bigger challenges, greater obstacles, and more painful trials to endure.
Sometimes I wish it weren't so hard. For my friends who are runners, I often think of it as a "race" of life. I'm a terrible runner, but maybe, hopefully, in the case of faith I run a good race—a race worth cheering about.