It’s getting real. The weather is turning colder (we had sleet here on Saturday!) and the days getting shorter. I can no longer hide from winter’s impending presence. It’s coming.
But I had a talk with myself and you know what? It’s pretty dumb wasting time dreading its arrival. It’s time I embraced cold weather. (And in my book, embracing the cold = embracing sweaters, blankets, fuzzy socks, and hot mugs. That much I can handle. I’ll work later on the perma-cloud, shoveling, and wearing ten layers part.)
There’s a motto I came across some time ago that has stuck with me: Embrace grace and live the adventure. That sounds nice as a t-shirt slogan or framed piece of art on your wall. But what about when your adventure isn’t trips around the world, or spontaneous outings with friends, or tasting a new cuisine? What if you need to embrace grace because your heart is condemning you and you’ve lost sight of the gospel? What if the adventure you’re called to live is one you’d rather quit?
Like it or not, the hard, not-what-I-would’ve-picked adventures must be equally embraced. And kicking and screaming my way through them doesn’t count. Sheer resignation is not full surrender–whether that’s dreading the winter months or enduring a difficult trial.
Living with Purpose
As of tomorrow, I will have twenty-seven days left of being twenty-seven. What if I purposed to enjoy to the fullest each day God gives me–despite the looming winter, or the inevitable bad days, or the major disappointments? What if I truly were to embrace grace and live with intentionality and purpose the adventure God has planned for me?
What if you purposed to enjoy to the fullest each day God gives you? What if you truly embraced grace and lived with intentionality and purpose the adventure God has planned for you?
This twenty-seven day goal of mine conveniently corresponds with a thirty-day challenge I already committed to for the month of November. It’s called The 30-Day Gratitude Challenge and I strongly recommend you participating. (Full disclaimer: I helped edit the content, so naturally I think you should sign up! You have through the 31st to join.) As I look for opportunities to be grateful, I want to not only look for the good and give thanks for it, but acknowledge the hard and make the best of it.
So simple. So insanely difficult.
Filled with the Spirit
I was reading in Ezekiel the other day and found a glimmer of gospel hope within two short verses in chapter 2: “[The Lord] said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.’ As he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.”
Ezekiel had just seen an incredible vision of the glory of the Lord! He was on his face in awestruck response when God instructed him to do the humanly impossible. But when God commands, He enables. The Spirit entered Ezekiel, even while the Lord was still speaking, and gave him the power to follow through, to rise, to obey.
The Spirit of God is still in the business of empowering former-slaves-made-sons to do the impossible. It is His grace and power that makes it possible for you and me to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). Or, as that little motto puts it, to embrace grace and live the adventure.
What God has called you to do He will be faithful to complete in you (Phil. 1:6). We’re not alone on this journey. When we read the approximately 140 mentions of thanksgiving in Scripture, that means not only does God ask us to give thanks, but He gives us His Spirit to enable us to actually do it.
Grounded in Love
Confession time: I want to make a conscious effort to enjoy life and give thanks this next month, but I don’t expect to become a new person overnight (or even in thirty days). That’s because, while I am a child of God, I’m still a sinner stuck inside a fallen, human body. Sadly, I don’t walk in the Spirit minute by minute.
That’s why I need grace.
This strengthening grace is for those safely rooted and grounded in God’s love. We could spend forever and a lifetime contemplating and marveling at the love of God (and we will!) and still not plumb its depths! Listen to how the Apostle Paul describes this love in his prayer to the Ephesians:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:14-19)
This impenetrable love is what grounds me when I falter. It never ends even when my patience runs out. It never fails even when I do. How could we not trust this God of love? How could we not gladly give Him thanks?
Even though there are dark days ahead–both literally and figuratively–my heart longs to be able to say with the hymn writer, “I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face.”