This meditation isn’t complete without a picture of my reindeer, so I hope you can enjoy it here in this blog! As I re-read my meditation, it is a reminder to rest again in the grace of God. I found the grace of God was a matter of absolute beauty and awe when I first became a Christian many years ago. Somehow as the years went on though, my efforts to please God and my thinking that if I did more I would earn God’s favor seemed to creep in. I wonder if any of you fall into that same trap from time to time.
I’m at Bible college now, and for a time if I didn’t get a high mark during assessments, I struggled with feeling like I hadn’t given my all to God. At the beginning of the year, I left a student minister position because I didn’t feel cut out for it—I felt I had failed God again. I also became very unwell this year and haven’t returned to work since.
As I look back at 2019 I wonder, What do I have to show? It’s one of those years that I wish I could erase from my life. While many of my friends from college are involved in growing ministries and while my physiotherapy friends are advancing in their careers, I sit here and wonder once again, What have I achieved?
Not much. And I’ve learned that’s okay. This year has taught me even more to rest in God’s grace. When you have times when nothing really goes right and you can’t rely on your own efforts to achieve anything, you get a chance to experience the depth of God’s love.
It’s like God has told me this year—look, you’ve done nothing, and yet I still love you. You’ve done nothing, but you don’t have to because I’ve done it all. You’ve done nothing, and yet nothing can ever stop you being my child.
This has been freeing for me. I think I’ve often served God out of guilt, but experiencing God’s love during this year has changed my driving factor. Guilt has been banished and love and grace have grown. I could listen to a hundred sermons on grace, read books on it, and study it at Bible college, and yet I could only truly understand it when I experienced it. And to experience it, everything around me had to fall apart first. Every chance of me relying on my own works had to be taken away.
I may have no worldly achievements to show from this year, but God has reshaped me through it. It seems that we all want to avoid suffering, and yet we can often learn great lessons through it.
If you’ve had a year like mine, I pray you will not look externally but rather internally. Has God been teaching you something that you could not have learned any other way?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” — Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
We have small groups and an occasional Sunday class that uses the material for Bible study. We also have a Wednesday night group that reads all four of the lectionary passages and then follows lectio divina methodology in discussing and applying the passages. The Disciplines help in each of these as part of individual devotions but also as material for these group discussions. Our Pastors also preach the lectionary and use Disciplines to help craft the worship experience. It is also a part of our recommended discipleship pathway for all congregants. Many people in the congregation tell me how they love the devotional and it is helping them in their faith walk. Read more...