Stories of Grace: You Need Only Look

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As we count down to our 10th anniversary conference, we’ll be featuring stories of grace on our blog. This series is a very personal one to those of us who have been with Rooted for a while. Our journey as a ministry is only one that can be understood through hunger for the Gospel and the generosity of God with his beautiful grace. It’s the story of unlikely travelers embarking on an unknown journey filled with many triumphs and failures – and being blown away at God’s grace every step of the way.

Our prayer is that as you read these stories of grace, you’ll come to see your own story in the light of God’s grace. And that you, too, will be awakened afresh to the grace of God in your own lives, and to anticipate together with all God’s people the adventures that lie ahead! 

A few years ago my parents became interested in bluebirds. At the time, my mother was undergoing cancer treatment and was house bound at times. She had always liked birds and kept a feeder outside the kitchen window. The bluebird, though, became an obsession. After reading books on bluebirds and asking for help from local experts, my dad installed two bluebird boxes in the backyard and provided a buffet of meal worms for any possible tenants. It was a game of trial and error that eventually ended when a family of bluebirds arrived.

After my mother lost her battle to cancer, I would often walk on our local golf course where I began to notice the bluebirds. In fact, it seemed that a bluebird or two would show up at various times and places where her absence was felt most keenly: my sister’s engagement weekend, on prints in a hotel hallway where I was celebrating my thirtieth birthday, or walking on the golf course. The bluebirds became a source of comfort as I lifted my eyes to the trees around me, waiting for that flit of blue and brown to dash across my line of vision. As I watched the bird alight on a branch and pause, I, too, would pause. My mind stilled as I watched the delicate creatures with delight and wonder.

I mentioned this one day to my husband, who simply was not as impressed as I was with my bluebird sightings. “They’re all over the golf course. They always have been. I never understood why it was so hard to attract them when you can see them there so easily,” he explained. My uncommon bird was apparently common. I just had no idea; I had never noticed them.

But I also did not need to notice until my mom’s death.

How often is God’s grace, the unmerited favor of God toward man, like that to me still? I don’t need to notice it when I have everything under control. It is not until I realize my lack of control over my life that I begin to look for something beyond myself.

Death reminded me so rudely that I was not in control. The grief was overwhelming and so life itself was overwhelming. Yet, never have I felt closer to God than in that season of suffering. Never had I hurt as badly as I did then, but never had God ministered to me more tangibly. And one of the ways he did so was through the bluebirds. They became a means of grace for me.

When I saw a bluebird I didn’t think it was my mother coming to visit me. I didn’t think she had sent the bluebird. The bluebirds became a sign of God’s love and faithfulness in the midst of suffering. They reminded me that God saw me, cared for me, and had not left me. The bluebird, like the manna for the Israelites in the wilderness, sustained and encouraged me to take another step forward.

Oftentimes, our times of suffering are when we see God’s grace at work in our lives because that is when we become most hungry for Him. We are beyond ourselves, needing a Savior. And so we begin to look for Him in every part of our lives, not just on Sunday morning. In other seasons of life, we are just too busy, too self-reliant to look for God’s grace because we have forgotten that we need it.

God cared about my broken heart walking around on a golf course. But God also cares about my child trying out for a school team. God cares about my marriage. God cares about my children’s education. God cares about my struggles parenting a teenager. God cares about my friendships. God cares about my work. God cares about the things that seem to be going well and the things that don’t. He cares about it all.

What one might define as a secular part of life suddenly becomes a spiritual one because His grace actually extends into those parts of my life just as much as it does when I’m at church.

Aware of my need for Christ in every single part of my life, I begin to look for Christ in every single part of my life- the mundane walks and the life milestones. I seek His marks, his little touches of grace, the proof that God sees me and knows me.

A friend showing up with dinner when a child is sick: grace. An encouraging text from a mentor: grace. A youth leader investing in your child: grace. A glimpse of your teenager at his best in the midst of hard years: grace. A bluebird on the golf course: grace. God using ordinary means in our ordinary lives to extend his grace and exhibit his love for us. As Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.”

God didn’t send a Savior for us to only have the abundant life in Heaven. He sent his Son and Holy Spirit so that we can have a taste of the abundant life on earth. Psalm 27:13 says, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”

His grace extends beyond heaven and into our earthly lives. His goodness exists practically and meaningfully on this side of heaven, reminding us how fully and completely he cares and provides for us.

Grace, which God gives out of His abundant love for me, is perfectly personified and demonstrated in the life and death of His son, Jesus Christ, for my sins. If ever I need a billboard of God’s grace, I lift my weary eyes to the cross and the promise of an empty tomb. Grace is the most extraordinary way that God cares for his people in their ordinary lives. Grace has always been there, just like the bluebirds. I need only look.

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