Living a Year in GRACE: An Awakening Come Full Circle

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Smack in the middle of January in Southern California and I’m cross-legged in the backyard. It’s 80+ degrees and the sun is warming my back as fingers fly on the keyboard and the youngest naps.

I could pinch myself.

The sky is the electric blue and far off I hear a lawn being mowed. A yellow bud catches my eye and I wonder when she’ll smile for us, radiant petals lifting their gazes heavenward. Empty bowl by my knee, chipped and worn- almost ten years it’s moved from apartment to townhome to cottage, settling into different cupboards and feeding hundreds of mouths holding soup, ice cream, and parfait snacks.

I’m so like this bowl. Chipped. Worn. Continually filled with life, then emptied, then cleaned and wiped anew. 2013 poured much into my bowl- loss, grief, anger, joy, bitterness, questions about how day-to-day should look after tragedy, but grace- if not for grace. His grace was always there. Glazed on the inside and outside of my cracked offerings, it laid a foundation to stomach sour alongside the sweet.

I gaze at a silver lantern swaying above the outdoor table. My mind follows back and forth in reflection.

Has it really been a year since our family chose to live in grace for 2013? You can read the initial post here, An Awakening to Grace.

Did I have any idea what we were getting ourselves into when I uttered the heart’s imprint aloud last January? I mean, we were going to memorize some verses on grace, and let God teach the rest, but c’mon, did we have to really learn the true definition?

Yes, I quietly whisper. Yes, we did.

January, 2013. Grace seemed an abstract, smiley-face concept. Like a letter floating from heaven to doorstep that when opened, glittered hundreds of pale, almost translucent feathers. The feathers, of course, were a perceived symbol of grace.

Now fast forward to January 2014: Here is what I know of grace.

Grace is not sweet and cotton candyish- it’s the scariest, living with hands-wide-open, Savior-dependent, expectation-meets-relief exhale. It’s knowing in our gut that He is using every ounce of pain and sheer joy to draw us closer to His glory, in His time.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

“…for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Now I understand.

Grace is not a feeling, it’s not mustering up “niceness” when undeserved. It’s humbly accepting and trusting that Jesus sees our messy human attempts and transforms them into personal life-altering moments. Grace is desiring nothing above His comfort or solace because He knows the rest of the story and it’s worth reading, it’s worth sticking it out.

A month after my dad passed away I was driving to church and hashing it out real good with God.

Why God? Why dad? Why now? Why? Why? Why?

Yellow, then red turns the light.

Then, clear as day He spoke: Remember how you asked to live in grace this year?

I almost didn’t want to respond. Pretty sure I rolled my eyes at the Creator of the world.

Taking your dad when I did was the true definition of grace.

I recall the car behind me honking. Green light.  Had anyone else had heart that? How come everyone was driving around like usual?

Because it was for me. And every word was truth offered.

If God hadn’t taken my dad when he did, who knows…

how long he would have been in that hospital?

Or his quality of life after he came out of a coma {not that we cared}.

Let’s imagine he had come out of the coma, maybe even at 50%. Imagine him embracing mom and his grandkids- would he have even been able to do that? Let’s say yes. Then, imagine we had to look him in the eye and tell him that he was going to die all over again. What if we had to explain that the stroke was actually caused by the kidney cancer (the one that had come back clear three months prior) and had metastasized to his brain. If not for the stroke, he would find out at his next scan in two weeks that he was terminal. He would have months if not weeks. No treatment, no cure. He was going to die slowly and painfully.

That news right there would have killed him.

I can’t fathom. Losing a father to a sudden stroke was horrible, but God knows watching him waste away –  clinging to moments wondering if they were his last- would be devastating.  For my mom. For my dad. For everyone.

The reality? We got the best version of dad before his stroke. We saw a man overjoyed at the news that he had beat cancer. He laughed more. Talked more. Worried less. Praised God for healing. He went at his prime- a bittersweet mirror to this grace gift.

That, my friends, is grace. It’s knowing God knows best and loves His children too much to experience unnecessary pain. God knew the cancer would take dad no matter what. He called him home before we had to watch dad slowly wither away, before he became a shell of the dad and papa we knew.

Taking your dad when I did was the true definition of grace.

He had welcomed him home at the perfect time; pre-appointment with terminal cancer news, pre-symptoms, pre-waiting. His grace timing.

Grace had come full circle.

And I’ve seen it ever since. In the everyday, in dreams, in letting go and trusting a Father who knows every hair on our head.

Grace is unclenching how we think life should be and instead, praising God for His surprise plan, understanding that none of life is deserved and that pain and joy and everything in-between are gifts. Grace is loosening our grasp of fragile feathers to discover that in the letting go, He transforms them into peacock plumes; bold, vibrant, strong, colorful, heaven-breathed peacock plumes.

I take such comfort in this verse: “The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.”  Numbers 6:25

Wherever your grace journey has you, have you considered He is doing immeasurably more than you can fathom? It may be painful, unplanned, or tempt you to close the faith door, but if you pray to see His grace in His time, you won’t help but sit in awe of what that definition means for you.

How is God’s grace transforming fragile feathers into peacock plumes in your life?

 

 

 

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