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Graceful Living

Birthday time—and a gift to buy! I wish I could say that money was the least of my concerns—but that would not be true. The money available had been accumulating in a brown bag in the bottom of the cookie jar ever since the last birthday—with a few cookie crumbs mixed in.

The decision could not be made on a whim. This was his day so everything must be well planned and the gift very special. This planning stage lasted for weeks, with shopping and dropping, exuberance and exhaustion mixed into each hour interchangeably. This one day would do more to demonstrate our love for him than the entire year!

The day finally arrives. The party is great. The requested meal near perfection. Now, it’s time for the gift! I just know what his response will be—WOW! Look at this everyone, eyes glowing and a smile from ear to ear.

Well, my balloon snagged a bramble bush. I could tell—easily—that he was far from delighted with the gift. He mumbled some platitudes—but I knew. He doesn’t understand the hours of pleasure it will bring. He’s never had anything like this.

But the deed was done. The gift is not exchangeable. It wound up in his room under the bed—living with the "dust bunnies." To him, it wasn’t a big deal. He simply didn’t like the gift. But to me, it was entirely different. He hadn’t realized the value of the gift—all the effort, the planning, the time and yes, the money. How does this story compare to God and His gift of grace?

God has gone to such unimaginable depths! Grace—the gift He has given to us has blood smears on the wrapping—the blood of His only Beloved Son. (Can you imagine this living with dust bunnies? Scandalous!) The time involved? Incomprehensible. The love? Unfathomable. Value? Inestimable. In his book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey says: "Grace can never be repaid; it has no price, not because it’s worthless, but because it is priceless."[1]

Priceless! And we handle it so carelessly. We drag it out from under the bed when we get that unexpected midnight call from the police station, when we head for the hospital or the funeral parlor. We add grace to our theological vocabulary and casually sprinkle the word into our conversations. I wonder. What does God think about the way we use His Gift, too wonderful for words? [2]Maybe this is why we have people in our lives who are unappreciative, non-communicative, insensitive—so we can experience an infinitesimally small bit of what He experiences when we put God’s grace "under the bed."

At salvation, we meet the lovely and we are immediately enamored with her. But then—with an impressive drum roll, we throw our shoulders back, lifted our chin, adjust our boot straps and march forth to live the Christian life in our own strength, believing that He expects us to work for Him, giving it our very best. And so we go out to live life, closing the door behind us, never realizing that we are leaving God’s provision for living life under the bed![3]

Not only do we disappoint God when we walk in this form of "gracelessness"—we insult Him. God is thinking, "You don’t you realize what you are doing? I allowed my Son to be whipped—the skin torn from His back; I didn’t interfere when He was taunted; I saw them drive the spikes into His hands and feet—I saw His face contort with pain; I was watching when they crucified Him! For you! I watched Him writhe and bleed and heard Him cry out in agony to Me for help—His Father! All of this that you might have the power to meet life and you refuse it! You do not avail yourself of it! You insist on doing it on your own!" You have done two evil things—you have forsaken Me—the fountain of life-giving waters and have built cisterns for yourselves—broken cisterns that cannot hold water…"[4]

Steve makes another statement that causes our brow to furrow: "Abiding in Christ causes us to experience the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, enabling us to soar above the temptations of the flesh.[5]

Are you as interested in soaring above the temptations as I am?

The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself about how to cross rivers. Beautiful!

"And if I abide, Anabel, this will cause me to be able to soar? That sounds so good. But tell me, how do I abide?"

Hudson Taylor draws the analogy of living with someone.[6] You are "abiding" in their home. You are protected by the locked doors from harm. Your comfort is assured because of the closed or open windows. Food is provided regularly for you—deliciously prepared. You become intimately acquainted with the people who live there because you fellowship with them all day long—from breakfast until you take off your sandals at night and crawl into bed. They have great wisdom, know influential people, and don’t want for material blessings. All of these things are yours as you abide in their home.

We abide with Christ the same way—only it is in the mind. You are protected and well-cared for; your every need is more than adequately supplied; you fellowship with Him all day long; and He "gives [you] wisdom in the night. He tells [you] what to do."[7] These things will be found as definitions of grace in God’s dictionary

Steve writes: As we abide in Him, it is impossible to miss the will of God, because His very life is being expressed through us at every moment. When a Christian abides in Christ, he can assume that his thoughts and decisions are being directed by the Holy Spirit within him. Abiding in Christ cannot be separated from expressing the life of Christ.[8]

Oswald Chambers watch says this about "abiding" in God’s grace: "At first we want the consciousness of being guided by God, then as we go on we live so much in the consciousness of God (abiding in Him) that we do not need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing any other never occurs to us.[9]

Does that sound impossible? Too good to be true? Too ethereal? Too mystical? No. You see, when you’re talking to Him all through the day—and if He truly lives inside of you then this is available to you by your choice—you won’t veer from His desire for you, for His desire and your desire become one.

Walking by grace is God’s power planted in a human body for divine purposes. It is the life of Christ giving life to man so man’s life can give glory to God.[10] It is living each day with this commitment: Christ is my life because of grace and only by grace, and through grace He will meet today for me; empowering me do those routine things with excellence; those hard things with determination; those seemingly impossible things with courage and dignity.

Grace. It is a gift carefully planned for me and presented for me—for you—and presented to us from Someone who loves me more than any earthly person is capable of loving us. I don’t fully understand how to use it, nor do I comprehend its magnificent value. This one thing I know: Grace is for our good from a loving God.

Do I really need any other references?

[1] Steve McVey, Grace Walk (Harvest House, 1995)

[2] II Corinthians 9:15

[3] Galatians 3:3, 5:25

[4] Jeremiah 2:13

[5] Ibid.: McVey

[6] Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret (Moody Press)

[7] Psalm 16:7

[8] Ibid.: McVey

[9] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1935)

[10] Russ Kelfer, Discipleship Tape Ministries, San Antonio, Texas

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.