It has been two years since our family has come back to the states. We are officially on furlough in for the next six weeks.
In the first few days of arriving in Raleigh we were showered with love, resources, finances, and encouragement from people of Vintage Church in Raleigh North Carolina. One night a group of them got together and took turns telling us how much they love us, presenting us with gifts, affirmation of our partnership, and giving offerings to watch our kids. I sat there humbled and strangely detatched. It was like I couldn’t fathom such excessive grace in my life. It seemed like God was crushing me with his grace. It was inappropriate to give so much to ME, so much encouragement that felt truly undeserved. I went to bed that night unsettled.
Our first day at church the pastor was talking about inappropriate grace. He spoke of how we blame God when things are hard in our lives, but when things are good we congratulate ourselves instead of seeing that as coming from God. The pastor went on to talk about how God delights in giving us good things, times of rest, relationships that refresh our soul, and times of plenty. That is another expression of God’s grace to us.
This was revolutionary to me. I have heard over and over again how the hard times refine us, we will suffer in life, and tribulations cause us to cry out to God. Living in Uganda has proven that. I had also heard that times of plenty makes us soft and complacent and that having too much goodness in our lives takes our focus off of God.
As much as I had been looking forward to a time of PLENTY in the States, I was missing the point of it all. Our time here wasn’t to be running from responsibilities but rather a time of REFRESHING, a gift from God, inappropriately given to a selfish sinner focused on tangible things. For days I marveled at how much, how excessively God was blessing us. In two weeks He had given us time with dear friends, money, time away for Dan and m at a beach resort without kids, counseling with wise men, reunions with friends who also had lived in Uganda, and promises of future involvement in our ministry.
In wrestling with all this, the definition of GRACE came to mind:
a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
This grace from God, this time of rest and reflection and being showered with love and encouragement is a gift. It is for my sanctification. I struggled with the thought of the goodness of God having anything to do with my sanctification before. Wasn’t my sanctification worked out through all the hard times in my life?
It is just as foolish to miss the fact that God loves blessing us in personal refreshing ways as it is foolish to think the only way we grow is in hard times. The hard times certainly bring us to our knees quickly but I have been just as humbled in the last two weeks by the good things, the over abundance of grace and joy that God has poured out on my family.
My whole perspective has changed regarding our time here. It is NOT a running away from our hard lives in Uganda but enjoying the care and rest that God has given us SO THAT we can go back ready to work again and be poured out for others.
Be challenged to see the goodness of God in your lives today. Accept the gifts, so inappropriately given to you by a gracious God. Rest, be refreshed, and return to whatever He has called you to ready to serve.