Saturday, September 28, 2013

Extravagant Grace

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you..." (Jer. 29:11)  The verse is very familiar, and yet my attitude does not always portray that I really believe it.  Last weekend at our ladies' retreat, God drenched me in grace.  Let me share with you the ways. 

As I entered the room for our first session Friday night, a woman came up to me and encouraged me with her words.  This was before I had even found a seat.  Grace.

Later, we did a little mixing of the tables to establish our discussion groups for the weekend.  I ended up with the wife of the man of whom my son works for.  As we were asked to share of someone who was influential in our lives, she spoke of my son.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  But it blessed my heart immensely.  Grace.

That night, I had a kick back relaxing time with some women I don't often get to spend time with.  I felt so accepted and genuinely cared for.  Laughter was abundant.  Grace.

In the morning session on Saturday, I was encouraged to hear of another woman and her son, Mary with Jesus, and the water turned to wine.  Surely, God is never out to disgrace us.  He does not 'dis' us, but rather showers us with over the top grace.  He could have told Mary what's what.  Instead He graces her with abundant provision.  She is not shamed.  Likewise, God is not out to shame me, even when I'm in the wrong.  He is not like that.  Grace.

Until now, I've never seen a women's retreat where there were no cliques.  Maybe it was due to the house setting rather than the typical hotel rooms, I don't know.  But I witnessed a true bond of unity.  It was beautiful.  Grace. 

There is something to say for genuine hugs and pooled eyes.  God poured His extravagant grace out to me through my sisters in Christ, over and over, in spite of the fact that it was out of my comfort zone.  Grace.

God placed me in a room with three other women who were very calm.  It was not the people I thought I would be with, but God knew it was what I needed, an oasis of quiet, a place to get away and be still when I needed rest.  Grace.

I could not believe the number of women who cared enough to pray for me in my moment of need.  I am touched that they would put forth the effort.  Grace.

For our hike on Saturday, God gave us a beautiful blue-sky-fall sort of day.  It was perfect.  The very next day Colorado received her first snow.  Wow!  Such a contrast.  Thank you Lord, for waiting until after our hike to send the storm.  Grace.

When we returned to the villa, it seemed we had walked into an Italian restaurant.  The smells of lasagne and garlic bread permeated the house and swept us up into cozy togetherness and comfort.  I was amazed that some of the ladies had spent their free time all afternoon to prepare it for us.  Grace. 

On the ride home, God saw fit to place me next to our current MOPS Coordinator.  I had to chuckle.  It was like an extra grace thrown in.  Before this weekend, I didn't know her from Adam.  But we talked and shared deeply all the way home.  That was me, some fourteen years ago.

I remember way back then, my pastor telling me there was no obligation to fill the position of coordinator, just because there was no one else.  Our church did not have to host MOPS.  He did not want me to feel pressured in that way.  But God made it very clear to me that I was to be there, which is a story for another time.  In talking with this woman, I think God was showing me a little fruit to that labor.  Grace.

On returning home, my son was making dinner for me.  His very own lemon/garlic/herb pasta recipe.  I was touched by his thoughtfulness.  Grace.

As I stepped into the door of my house, the first thing I noticed was that the dressers were gone.  Massive dressers that had sat in my living room for almost a month.  My husband sold them to a precious family with a little girl who would enjoy them immensely.  I was relieved to see the empty space.  Grace.  

I am overwhelmed by God's extravagant, over the top grace.  Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life! (Psalm 23)  These are not just catchy phrases of a distant God.  No, they are personal and real to the core.  God delights in us.  He clothes us with strength and dignity and prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.  He anoints my head with oil.  My cup overflows! 

1 comment:

  1. This sharing warmed my heart and brought tears. God is Awesome! Sending hugs and prayers to you today as everyday. Nana