I’ve been following Jesus for as long as I can remember. I went to a Christian school, Christian camps, and a Christian college. Then I worked at a Christian camp, Christian church, and for a Christian ministry.
I have the merit badge for Christianity. Bibles on my shelves: check. Bible verses on my walls: check. Small group: check. Bible study: check. Living a grace-filled life: . . .
There’s a reason why I’ve been crying through counseling sessions this summer and fall. I’m slowly beginning to realize how little I allow God’s grace to affect my life. His law shapes my decisions and His Word is on my tongue, but most days I live like someone who does not know the Grace of God.
I’ve always preferred reading the Old Testament to the New Testament. I felt like there were so many more stories that I had never heard before, and I LOVE a good story. I love reading the Gospels, too. Lots of stories in the Gospels. But the “ians” books (Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians…etc.), the letters? Not so much. Honest truth: I felt like I already knew that stuff and didn’t need Paul or Peter or whomever to remind me.
My church has been walking through the entire book of Romans this year. Since January we’ve examined Paul’s letter on Sundays and Wednesdays and every day in between. I wasn’t excited about it for a long time. I was shocked to hear so many in my small group mention how much they loved the book. I’d always found it to be a little… redundant. That’s AWFUL to say, right? Who admits something like that? But now I see the missing link. Grace was a word that had no real impact on my every day life. I didn’t get it.
It’s no secret that God has used Emily P. Freeman’s book, “Grace for the Good Girl” to reach my heart in huge ways. The lessons in grace kept flowing with Emily’s new book for young women, “Graceful.” My copies are both less than a few months old and are already folded, inked, and worn. God is the author of change and growth in my life and He has certainly used these beautiful words to finally reach my stubborn self.
I’m reading the “ians” books of the Bible again as if for the first time. I’m listening intently to the sermons on Romans. I went into my counselor’s office with shining eyes exclaiming how much I’m loving the New Testament. For so long I’d associated perfect performance with God’s favor. I believed that Jesus was the one who had saved me, and because of that I’d been redeemed. But I did not believe for one second that God was pleased with me… that He delighted in me. As hard as I worked, I would always be something of a disappointment to Him. I was the good girl who would never be good enough.
And to that, He has shouted to my soul: MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS!
“Somewhere along the way, I got the message that salvation is by faith alone but anything after that is faith plus hard work and sweet disposition. I lived under a system I designed for myself and I labeled it The Gospel. As a good girl, every choice I made was dictated by a theology of self-sufficiency. Life was up to me, and I was prepared to get it right.” (Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl)
When I read that paragraph I knew He was calling to me through Emily’s words. So much has changed in my heart over these last few months, and there is still so much to be done – but my work is to trust the One whose power is made perfect in my weakness.
In hopes that our lives would all be marked by God’s grace, today kicks off a couple of exciting things on the blog!
1. A Graceful Series! All this week we will be talking about grace in our lives: grace from God, grace in our relationships, grace for the world, and grace for ourselves.
2. A Graceful GIVEAWAY. I want to share Emily’s words with you. I’m hosting a give-away of Emily’s new book “Graceful.” It’s written especially for young women, but aren’t we all still 15 at heart? My copy has been marked up and I know that you or one of the young women in your life would greatly benefit from reading this book. So whether you are 14 or 64, jump in on this giveaway!
“Life isn’t about trying hard to be good, it’s about trusting God to be graceful in us.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful)
Two copies, two winners, three ways (one option will enter you daily) to be included in the drawing! Contest closes Saturday morning, October 13th at 12:01am. The winners will be announced on Tuesday the 16th of October. See the swanky box below for details!
Swimming in Grace,