Lessons in Listening and Grace

Waking on a Sunday morning, I silence the pleasant melody of the alarm that is often unwelcome. How did the minutes and hours pass so quickly to usher in the seven o’clock hour? In the kitchen, the coffee pot received the same wake up call. My thanksgiving would surely be granted to a cup of piping hot coffee once I transformed my tousled hair and sleepy countenance into something more presentable to the public. The next hour seemed to slip through my fingers and my sleepy husband drifted back to Dreamland. I called into the bedroom to see if he wanted to partake in the breakfast I planned. With only fifteen minutes before the start of the early church service and a twenty minute drive ahead of us, he offered a simple suggestion to get dressed and snag a couple granola bars for the commute. Without notice, a wave of frustration came crashing over me as all the time and effort invested to create a relaxing morning seemed to be overlooked by our desperate need to rush out the front door. In two seconds flat, I went from a cool, calm, and collected thirty year-old woman to a moody teen-aged girl, to whom life was far from fair. Tears filling my eyes, I fled to the patio to catch my breath. What was happening? Surely, this isn’t the woman my patient husband signed up to spend the rest of his life with.

As in most dramatic moments, my mind started scanning through all the challenges and choices that lay ahead and they suddenly seemed larger than life. If I was to respond to the stress of a Sunday morning delay the same way I would respond to a more pressing situation, what would be the outcome?

Entering stage right, a monarch butterfly drifted past and its color turned bright in the sunshine. Something about the sight of a butterfly reminds me that God is in control. Maybe it’s the way they float through the air with such grace.

butterfly

GRACE. It was absolutely what I needed in that moment. It’s what I need in every moment. Every moment of every day, I need to be fully embraced by grace.

With bowls of oatmeal and warm cups of coffee, we snuggled up on the couch and launched this week’s sermon on our iPad. The words of Pastor Ed’s message cut to my heart. Most of his time was spent in 1 Samuel, where we are introduced to Saul, before he is anointed king over Israel. Nearing the end of his sermon, he took a quick side path to Luke 10, where Mary is seated at Jesus’ feet as Martha is at work in the kitchen. He pointed out something I had not noticed before: while Martha was going about her business to do something good, and very much worthwhile, Mary was close enough to hear even a whisper that Jesus wanted to share with her. Her proximity to her Lord allowed her to listen with great intensity, without distraction. Here I was, feeling alone and lacking a strong sense of direction. Have I been in a position of surrender and humility, or was I charging forward with what I thought was best, all the while working far enough away from His presence that I could be missing what He would have for me each day? With this check in my spirit, I quietly admitted that I desperately needed more time with the One who should be guiding my steps.

Growing up in a Christian home, there have been seasons in my life when “quiet time” seemed so cliché. The older I get, the more I see my desperate need to carve out time to be a student of the Word and to have conversations with a Father who loves me, a Savior who gave his life for me, and a Spirit who counsels me. This unseen God sees me, knows me more intimately than I understand myself, and has plans that far greater than my own. Today, I pray for the grace to be sanctified (set apart as holy) as I surrender my incorrect thinking that I am able to go about this life on my own strength. Profound expectation stirs within me as I look forward to the moments before the dawn – time to listen intently before distraction has a chance to distance me from His throne room. With my need made so plain this weekend, it would be foolish to act otherwise!

sunlight

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