One of the strongest fruit of life is the rare air of grace. It’s a fruit that is pollinated in its giving. The full pollination happens between one who has received grace and the one who could wilt or die under adversity. Although grace can be slow to move from budding to reaching maturity and tediously pedantic to find its fullest potential, the result is never lost, never wanes, always sits and thankfully keeps on giving. In this growing place, the potential is fully birthed potency, explosive, dynamic and changed forever, so that you will never forget the day that grace came into your life.
The challenge comes not in remembering the feeling of grace, but in the crap of life that sits like dust, then clag, then caked on pain that creates a wall around your grateful heart. Your grace has become stifled to the point that breathing is through a straw, and it’s one breath in, one gasp out. All you wish for is clarity and a space where your breath is deeper and your lungs are fuller. The oxygen in the blood pumping from your heart is affecting healing and growth. Because you want to give grace, you just wonder ‘how?’
As I write this I’m sitting 12 metres away from summer pain. At the same cafe, with the same customers, the waitress has just let me in on a secret. It’s a hot Saturday midday introduction to a Brisbane summer. 31 deg Celsius (89 Fahrenheit) is warm and when you’re still ’emerging from hibernation’, it’s a hit to the armpit’s deodorant supply. But this gorgeous Cafe with its street-side ambience apparently has two seating sections for customers hidden by an imaginary line. There is the sauna section and the breezy and cooler executive wing. And yes it was to the ‘West’. Seeing the look on our faces as we arrived, the waitress asked if we would like a cooler table and took us to the executive wing. Now I can sit comfortably with a breeze and my oat milk flat white thanks to someone’s insight and 12 meters of distance. The shift matters.
You’ve received grace, it may not have been fully realised but no matter how much you were given, it can grow. It just takes a seed and across the years of our life, we have all received, if a little. You may even have replicated the power of its life-giving powers in others, but in this season it isn’t there anymore, or is it. So what happened to hide the ‘grace power’ that used to shine from your heart, your words, your actions. Were the kids too painful, your spouse too uncaring in their repetitive selfishness or the boss, who somewhere in the line we all have, too disparaging? What was once dust, is now dirt and in the storms of life it first became mud and then in the heat of adversity’s sun across your life, it is now a wall of bricks.
Earlier this year we took the plunge and had a solar power system added to our home. Changing the concrete tile roof to a shimmering sea of solar panels, the result is now sustainability from the heat of the day. One of the keys to a good solar installation is reducing shadows across your panels. The more that the entire suite of panels can receive those rays, the better the total result. So a key question from every company that quoted was to ask about the location of trees over the property. This was both a safety issue for the insurers but for the solar installer it is about deciding on the best side or slope of the home that will receive the best sunlight hours as the sun arcs across the sky while at the same time dodging the shadows of nature’s tall and leafy warriors.
At the start, as you live and apply grace, you can be like our solar installation. You’ve received, and now you want to give away. In the first few weeks of the solar experience, I was on our app that measured the performance of the solar inverter and was excited by the data that showed we were carrying our own electrical production performance weight. It felt good to know the money we had spent on the installation was being offset when we would receive a significantly reduced invoice from our external electricity utility supplier.
But like you, that excitement dwindles and along with returning to the daily grind, there is another danger in the use of solar panels to provide for your home. That shimmering array of glass on the roof can lose its energy production edge. We live in an area of Brisbane that is renowned for dust. part of the issue of being on the edge of town suburbs, and along with that the continued development clearing new ground for new housing developments is that dirt flies and never seems to stop. We often find our bathroom on one side of the house with the window screens clogged with dust that’s now dirt. And the effect will make its way onto the bathroom vanity.
Now take that gradual build-up to our solar panels and they will be having a subtle but slowly building barrier of mud cake makeup between their cells and the activating rays of the sun. Sound familiar? We never wake up and go “No more soup for you”. Sorry, Seinfeld reference. But you get it, it’s not like we declared “I will not give grace!” and if we did, it was likely that the build-up blindsided us and that should be an indicator of how tough we’ve been doing life, that it could happen like that. That grace reserves have simply run out.
In Queensland, Australia, we do have a serendipitous benefit from the weather but it could go either way. With certain storms of the year, we could get amazing torrential downpours that would wash silt away. That said, we could equally receive golf-ball-sized hailstones that would destroy the solar panels in a matter of minutes. Why do I share this weather forecast with you? Because if you are looking for grace to come into or through your life based on random weather events you are leaving too much to happenstance when you could be cultivating a life of grace that is yours to absorb and yours to give away.
If you’re like me you love giving presents. Sure, getting the surprise, the generous, thoughtful unwrapped goodness of a well-crafted present is amazing. But, giving that same elaborate or considered present is also powerful in replenishing your heart as the giver. So if your grace is currently under a level or two of the silt of life, are you interested in getting back to the giving?
Reading between the lines you’re reading, I think you’re here because this resonates. You want to move from the sauna section of the cafe to the breezy west wing. If your day could be powered by the giving of grace then you know you’d be flying. Just the idea of ‘helping a friend’, ‘inspiring the hurting’ or ‘forgiving the hurters’ would change both your outlook and your position.
So let’s move 12 meters from where we are in 12 simple steps and see if we can break the bricks around your grace supply so that is can be both rejuvenated and released. They started as dust but now there’s a wall so let’s give it a hit and let some grace in. It’s my little catchphrase that we’re going to use here; “Look for the crack, it’s where the hop gets in”.
- Ask for opportunities to give grace. For me it’s about short prayers that ask God for an opportunity in any situation. For you it may be asking yourself to be aware of openings in your day or week.
- Prepare by role playing how you can give the gift of grace. I do this regularly. Whether I’m preparing for a meeting with a friend, a client or thinking about ways to handle a situation. It’s amazing how powerful the mind is in allowing you to walk through options ahead of an opportunity. Now a little ‘clothing label warning’, don’t overthink it. If you’re not enjoying the mental role playing, stop! Do it later when you’re in a better space.
- Consider your contacts and where grace may be needed in their lives. It probably won’t take you long to see a life that is in dear need of grace. You don’t need to be the person who brought adversity to be the one who can bring relief and balance with a serving of grace.
- Learn from others by reading stories of forgiveness and grace. We can both be empowered, inspired and also learn new ways to add grace to a situation. Corrie Ten Boom’s book, “The Hiding Place” is a powerful story of her life of forgiveness and dealing with the Nazi regime during World War II.
- Review your relationships. Are their people or groups where your tone or action may have lacked grace. It may not be your intent but have you been too abrupt, matter of fact or simply not observing the need in the room. Is it worth going back to someone or simply starting with a new level of empathy.
- Walk a mile in their moccasins. The willingness to embrace empathy is the perspective we all need before we can impart grace. It’s that ability to have the eyes of our heart open to the circumstance of others that gives us the fuel and inspiration to bring grace.
- Understand the mind and be willing to “speak new truths” into someone’s life as a way of bringing grace. While we may see surface needs that need to be met or relationships that mending, the individual sits with their mind many hours of the day. Grace can sometimes be the delivery of a new message they need.
- Bring patience to the table as grace sometimes means time. While the start of grace may be a turning point, the maturity of grace in both the life of the giver and the receiver will take many hours, days and months of soaking. Let grace marinate.
- Some grace is delivered with sacrifice. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you may find that there are unique situations where the greatest gift of grace you can give is by walking away. In doing so you allow two things to happen, you find humility in understanding that ‘we’ are not the solution to every problem. And you release the receiver of grace to find it from the best place that will work for their situation.
- Go out of your way to deliver grace and see the amazing results. It is easy for us to deliver what is convenient, but the real power of grace comes in taking time, showing generosity and overcoming obstacles to meet a need.
- Give the grace you didn’t think was needed and so surprise yourself and the receiver. Hearing a need and acknowledging logically is wonderful. Listening to our heart and responding without any understanding of how the pieces fit together is life-changing! You may be listening to the spirit of God or feel you’re acting on a ‘whim’, but the delivery of kindness, grace and compassion will always bear fruit.
- Receive! It may seem silly to be last on the list when it should be first, but we need a reminder at the end of all these things we ‘could’ do, that we are in need of grace ourselves. From God we receive the ultimate gift of grace from the sin we ignore, hide or compensate for.
From our friends we need so much grace. We dance on each other toes and hurry from home to work losing sight of the connections and opportunities to love and be. We’re in a world where Instagram recognition and self-sufficiency are poor fuel for the energy of life.
If we are going to give grace, we need to find a source and supply of it.
This verse is soaked in grace. I have a summary of it at my front door created by Trudy Letters. I hope you can pull some motivation from its simplicity today and move forward with grace.