Experiencing a Visual Word Study
I’ve been thinking a lot about grace these past two months. Grace is a word I am familiar with, but the experience of grace sometimes seems illusive. Now is one of those times. The verses in Matthew 11:28-30 kept coming to mind and I remembered the phrase that captured me the first time I read it in The Message Bible: “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Jesus said to his followers,
“Are you tired? Worn out?… Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a rest.
Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
– Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Bible
About seven years ago I started asking the prayer, “Lord, what are you giving me grace for today?” I traded in my to-do list (which I did since I was a teenager) for the answers to this question. The answers to the question became my new to-do list, and part of the message implied is to be flexible with my plans and open to surprises and changes. This is a challenge for me since I like things planned out, following the steps etc. I still am asking the same question, but the meaning has become clearer as I’ve been focusing the past few weeks on grace. The prayer “Lord, what are you giving me grace for today?” can also be rephrased as, “Lord, what are you empowering me to do today?”
With all the recent surprises, I have been surprised what I have grace for, and what I do not. My quote of the year, “Plan to be surprised” from Dan in Real Life, has been realized to the point where I am looking forward to a new quote of the year. I could add my own quote to clarify this year’s quote, “Plan to let go of your plans. Embrace the grace given instead… let go and flow with the Holy Spirit.” Flow is my word of the year and I’m seeing it in a new light, through a lens of grace so I can learn to live freely and lightly instead of striving for what I “should” do.
Recently, a couple dear friends came over. We painted intuitively on gessoed pieces of scrap mat board without plan or thought, just picking colors we each felt drawn to. Then we painted doodles with black and painted around some shapes with white gesso. While it was drying we each asked God to speak to us. Not surprisingly, the doodles spoke to me of grace. I painted the word on my painting. We each shared the personal meaning of the activity. What a comfort it is to share the company of friends who care and share.
The next morning, as I was taking time to contemplate Grace, I wrote in my journal and reread what I had written earlier. Then I wrote some of those things down on my little painting – not because it looks good with all the words on it, but because it stands as a visual reminder of what grace is to me during this time. Grace is like a bottomless bucket. Talking about Grace is like talking about Love. Grace is so much more than “undeserved or unearned favor” although it is that! The best I can do is to say what Grace is to me right now:
~ Grace is experiencing God’s goodness extended to and through me
~ Grace lavishes on us the riches of God through Christ
~ Grace is the merciful kindness of God that turns a soul to Christ
~ Grace takes delight and pleasure
~ Grace is the amazing, empowering presence of God
~ Grace empowers us to be more like Jesus, to overcome, and accomplish the purposes of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~ Grace is the God given ability to grow and flow with the Holy Spirit, doing things that were previously impossible
~ Grace has saved me
~ Grace shows me I’m accepted by God
~ Grace is what I need today.