I remember the time when grace first revealed itself to me. Not fully, but I saw a little corner of the truth. I was spending the summer of 2009 scanning old training records at a nuclear power plant near my hometown. Drawer by drawer, we slowly emptied the old records storage building. When we finished with one file cabinet, Facilities would bring us a new one and take the empty one away on a dolly.
I was miserable. I could find no satisfaction in anything I was doing, not in any of my relationships, even the future held no promise of good for me. It was a time of dryness. Now I know that circumstances were on the cusp of turning, but in the moment, I didn’t have any hope.
And it was one day in the windowless cinder block bunker we worked in that I was standing at the copy machine, my mind straying far from the mundane task at hand. And a thought landed on my heart as soft as a feather: grace is being able to do what I can’t do.
I am still unraveling the implications of this truth.
For me, at the time, it meant being able to recognize the things I couldn’t do anything about, which I felt was pretty much everything, and understand that just because I couldn’t do it, it didn’t mean it wouldn’t happen. Just because my own strength wasn’t enough didn’t necessarily mean that I wouldn’t be able to lift it just when I needed it. Just because I felt I wasn’t qualified and didn’t deserve something didn’t mean I wouldn’t get it. And most importantly, just because things had always been one way didn’t mean they wouldn’t change soon.
It’s scandalous, really, that I can rely on my relationship with my Father that way. He’s able to do so much more than I give him credit for! It’s sad that I usually let my past or present circumstances dictate what I ask Him for, instead of looking at what He says, His promises of redemption.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Self-reliance simply could not take me where I needed to go, where I longed to be, setting my heart at peace. Reliance on God is a muscle that must be trained, and mine was very weak. All I knew how to do was keep going – and in the end, that was enough.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
It was about six more years before I left that season of dryness behind. But as I turned the corner at the end of 2009, I felt the momentum shift toward hope. Hope that I finally BELIEVED. This was just a single step on a long journey, but it has changed my trajectory. And that is grace!
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Joni Butler has called the ‘Ham home since 2012. Officially, she’s here for employment but has found a home here at Breath. Though an avid diarist for years, this is her first writing gig. Jesus is her best friend and she loves pursuing Him passionately. You can read more about Joni in her Breath Bio.