We have reached what is – most likely – the last post in my series of grace. Over the past month, I have talked about grace’s definition and application, accepting our freedom, and extending grace to others. For my last post, I will touch on the beauty of grace.
I believe that Relient K said it best in their song “Be My Escape.”
The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.
Throughout the song, Matthew Thiessen explains that he is trapped in his own humanity, constantly comparing himself to others and feeling insecure. He is locked inside a house of doubt, and all he wants is freedom. However, all that he deserves is to stay confined. He begs God to release him from the messy prison he has constructed.
He realizes that God is holding the key – grace. In fact, God had offered freedom long before the hostage house was built. Matthew comes to the conclusion that grace is not fair. He deserves to remain entrapped in the house of guilt. Justice – fairness – would only allow Matthew to serve his life sentence.
However, God’s grace extends the freedom that he does not deserve.
The sun was shining. Schoolwork was minimal. Friends were nearby. Work was easy. In every aspect, last week should have been a good week. But, for some reason, I was in a bit of a funk. I don’t know if anyone around me noticed, but my mind was distracted. I felt plagued.
Yet God is gracious. On Thursday, a radio program reminded me to meditate on God’s Word because my thoughts will direct my life. Below are ten verses that helped me through last week.
Galatians 5:1 – We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law.
I Timothy 4:14a – Do not neglect the gift that is in you…
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which He hath before ordained.
Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well.
II Timothy 1:7 – God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.
Philippians 4:6 – Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.
Psalm 119:9 –How can a young person live a pure life?By obeying your word.
Matthew 6:31-33 – Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.
Psalm 119:11 – I have hidden You Word in my heart so that I will not sin against you.
Psalm 66:9 – He protects our lives and does not let us be defeated.
It’s not that our cafeteria makes bad food necessarily. They make delicious turkey burgers, tasty Mexican chicken, and a potato medley that is beyond everything else. It’s just that cafeteria food from anywhere gets monotonous.
Around our lunch table, I have become semi-famous for my ability to transform cafeteria food. One day, someone even said to me, “I didn’t see any pizza on the hot line.” I smiled as I explained that my “pizza” was a slice of sandwich bread topped with the marinara dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks, cheese from the deli bar, and vegetables from the salad bar. It just takes a little creativity.
One food that my school serves multiple times a week is rice. The simple fix to keep my taste buds entertained is to make rice pudding by adding a little milk and zapping the mixture in the microwave.
Over the past few weeks, I have explained that grace makes us free–free from sin and free to be free. In this emancipated state, we are at liberty to free others as well. Chuck Swindoll refers to this as horizontal grace – the grace that we extend to those around us (139).
When we live in bondage to sin, we have no choice but to compare our own accomplishments, accolades, and activities to those of others. We often despise the success of others because we do not measure up in our own eyes. We see those around us as having more successful jobs, higher grades, healthier bodies, and more spirituality. In light of these prominent lives, we begin competing and criticizing (Swindoll 142). We want everyone to be at or below our own level so that we feel more successful. Legalistically, we want everyone to be alike.
It is hard to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15) when we are jealous of the rejoicers.
In grace, however, there is no comparison. Because grace is not based on any personal merit, there is no need to measure up in any way. I fear sounding redundant, but in grace, there is freedom. Instead of wanting people to be at or below our own level, we have freedom to…
Celebrate the success of friends, family, and even strangers.
Appreciate the differences in others.
Let God direct lives.
Let others be themselves.
Swindoll, Charles. The Grace Awakening. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003. Print.
On January 1, I announced my resolution to find the country’s best fast food oatmeal cookie.
My second cookie review was at Panera Bread. I love Panera’s soba bowl, and I was eager to try their cookies as well. However, I was not impressed. First of all, the cookie did not look appealing. It wasn’t burnt or misshapen, but it just didn’t entice me.
The center of the cookie was fat and chewy-almost too chewy. The cookie got stuck in my teeth. The edges were thin and crunchy-way too crunchy. The flavor, however, was pretty good. It was consistent and not too sweet.
Overall, I give Panera’s oatmeal raisin cookie 7 points.
On January 10, I received an email saying that January is National Oatmeal Month. I don’t know how I had missed this! I should have dedicated the entire month to this wonderful, warm morning treat.
I have had an abundance of oatmeal this month, but I haven’t made any new recipes since I have been at school. I couldn’t let the entire month go by without posting an oatmeal-related recipe, so I pulled this granola recipe out of the dark recesses of my drafts folder.
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup plain yogurt
preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
toss oats, cinnamon, coconut, pecans, almonds, and cashews in a large bowl
in a separate bowl, whisk honey and yogurt
stir honey + yogurt mixture into oat + nut mixture until everything is well coated
pour granola onto a lightly greased 13×18 rimmed baking sheet
bake approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasional until granola has turned a light golden brown
At first, the gray home had looked beautiful. The promise of provision was enticing, and security sounded blissful.
Little did she know that the painted curls were actually iron bars. The provisions were ignoble. The “security” allowed for no freedom. Rather than the expected comfort of home, she felt trapped in the cage.
Then the door was open. She didn’t think; she just acted. She flew out the gap, not looking back.
Free. At last, free.
Imagine being a bird in a cage. The walls are pretty, but you can only fly so far. Your needs are met, but you have no real choices. You are safe, but you do not have the joys of exploration. Given the opportunity, birds will fly straight out of their cages.
We, too, were once trapped. Sin, with its enchanting promises had enticed and ensnared us. We were slaves to the sin master. But Christ paid the purchase price when He died on the cross, and He bought us back. Now the gate is open, and we can be free.
Just like a bird, we should not choose to remain en-caged–we now have a new world to explore! We have choices! We have freedom!
Christ did not set us free so that we could stay just as we have always been.