The older I get the more of a ‘Calvinist’ I become—the more grateful for the sovereign grace of God. As my energy and idealism mellow with age, I look back at the first fifty years and see a trail of grace I may have once mistaken for the product of my energies. All the really good things, the key decisions, the best choices, the surprising and rewarding trails I’ve traveled have been God’s doings. I only followed His lead. Where is there room for boasting, about anything?! This role I play in life, it’s all a gift, His calling, my privilege.
How did I get to be a Grandmom? A mother? A wife? A child of God? How did I get to be born?! I can look back and see the choices I’ve made but the stringing together of opportunities to make them, this I could not do. And where did the propensity come from to make them one way or another? I could not know that in saying ‘yes’ to one thing, I would be saying ‘no’ to a host of other things and getting myself into a whole ‘nother set of things… And God only knows how much I have to be grateful for. I’ve only scratched the surface of seeing things as I ought. And that too is grace…
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be…
What of the hidden hazards that could have tripped me up given my naivety and yes, my self-will? These are only visible in retrospect, some of them anyway. A hidden Hand graciously spared me the trauma they would have caused. I see these things when I look back. I am a Grandmom now, entrusted with carefree little people who blithely trundle down the road of life as though it were a safe place. They hold my hand and expect that all will be well. They have few fears, little knowledge of what could happen. They just trust and take first steps… and sometimes their sin-bent wills say ‘no’ and try to do things their own way. Here too they need a hand to guide them into the way of right-eousness… and as I’m learning they are too: It’s always best to say “Yes” to the one who knows what’s best and sees beyond my small horizons… and to trust Him to lead me in paths of righteousness, for HIS name’s sake.
I am reminded of an old Sunday School song: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever”. The fitting response to grace is gratitude. The more of grace I recognize, the more grace-filled I will be—not just at meal-time when we ‘say grace’! All of life is by His grace. In all of life God is worthy of my effusive gratitude, whether I recognize His mercies at any given moment or not.
The alternative is to focus my will to strive for God’s favor, to beg for ‘blessings’ (like a child for lollipops at dinnertime), to pout when He says ‘no’, and to scheme of ways to ‘ambush’ Him into giving me my ‘due’ as though He owed me something for all my efforts. Children in grocery stores do it all the time. The ‘children of Israel’ in the desert did it too. They whined and fussed and demanded to be fed what they wanted when they wanted it. They were not grateful. They failed to trust in their Father’s care… they did not know His ways and so they missed His very best for them. Failing to learn the fear of God coupled with the love of God they were destined to die in the desert.
And as I shepherd my grandbabies along city streets, training them to walk on sidewalks and look both ways before they cross…reminding them not to demand but to say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ and wait patiently…and most of all grinning and smiling and applauding their antics, loving and playing, pushing the swing and making play dough together…I give them a hint of the fear of God and the love of God. His discipline and His favor, hand in hand, which I pray will shepherd them all their lives long. And I rest in His Sovereign grace that has been lavish in my life and will be just as sufficient for theirs. Oh to grace how great a debtor daily we all are constrained to be!
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Rom.5:1,2