Sending Grace Downstream

Dining on cubes of watermelon and calling it breakfast, the youngest son stands pajama-clad at the counter, his toothpick a dowser for the juiciest chunks.  In just a few end-of-summer days from now he will be up to his fetlocks in geometry, and I will be preserving the summer sweetness of our red tomatoes with one eye on the clock and the other eye (fierce!) on the boy’s screen time allotment.  We will approach breakfast with business-like efficiency, thinking about food groups and family devotions and the day’s agenda.

But today, summer is still in full sway and grace is on the menu — along with the watermelon.  In the busy days that lie ahead, is there a way to keep on living juicy, to hang onto the full brightness of summer solstice even though the planet keeps tilting us into shadow?  Brushing crumbs from the dining room table, I wonder if there’s a way to send grace downstream, like a note in a bottle, by deciding today how I will navigate the current of busy days around the next seasonal bend in the stream.

Today is a harbinger of the eventual, which means if I have my eye set on being a godly old lady someday in the far-off future, there are character qualities and mindsets that need to be set in bedrock ahead of time so that the accumulated complaints of life will weigh like feathers in the balance against the collected weight of blessings.  What better time than this seasonal transition to acknowledge the truth that bedrock does not lay down overnight?

In both of his letters to Timothy, Paul rattled off instructions and laid down guidelines for ministry.  Timothy had his hands full there in Ephesus, and that young pastor had a lot of sorting out to do.  However, tucked into Paul’s lists of qualifications and exhortations is this:

“Take strength from the grace that is in Christ Jesus . . .”  II Timothy 2:1 NEB

From one soldier to another, Paul was sending grace downstream to Timothy in the form of truth.  Truth can change the course of a day.  It can re-set a mind set.  Elisabeth Elliot translated Paul’s words into gritty practicality with one sentence:

“Whether you can take what life dishes out depends on what you take first.”

Is it possible that Paul saw a drift toward weakness in his younger brother and sent Truth as a course correction? On this late-summer morning, I invite Truth to inform my own feelings about the changing seasons with three small thoughts that carry the warmth and freedom of summer into autumn days:

There is always enough grace.

Even when my best efforts fail and progress on my self-salvation strategy of the day (also known as my do-list) proves that I am insufficient, I will remember that I am justified before God by my belief in HIS adequacy.  My obedient following makes the unseen visible and preaches truth to my own reluctance, for my smallest movement along “paths of righteousness” is met with God’s unfailing supply of grace for the next move.

Spoken words make a difference.

God stands ready to meet my unsure with sure and to galvanize my wishy-washy with a firm foundation.  There’s a good reason for Paul’s consistent use of the words “grace to you” at the beginning and ending of each of his letters, for he knew the Spirit-words that had been breathed to him would be read aloud to a fledgling church and believers would be strengthened in their faith.  Spoken aloud in a pick-up or drop-off run, murmured at the kitchen counter, these same words come off the page and dance in my imagination:
Take strength!
Don’t get tangled up in today’s mess!
Even if I am faithless, He remains faithful! 

To promote a deeper discipleship and a more faithful following in every season, I will choose to talk to myself more than I listen to myself.

Persevere in the Preserving.

Here just south of the 45th parallel, summer is a fleeting and an in-between season.  It won’t last for long, and even though the Atlantic Ocean is gorgeous all year long, there are only a few days in July and August when I can bear to feel its temperature on my skin.  The green cucumbers and plump tomatoes come in a rush and the last stragglers are snatched before the first frost.  What a perfect reminder that every moment on this planet can be a freeze frame, plucked from the blur and preserved in memory.  The colorful jars of beets and green beans shelved in my basement inform me that no good gift should be taken for granted.  Gratitude preserves joy, so I will persevere in the fight to train this oblivious heart to give thanks.

Instead of fighting the current as it carries away the last days of summer, I’m sending grace downstream by feasting on it today.  In True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer wrote about “faith in the present moment,”  and I’m convinced that moving with grace into schedules and lesson plans, cleaning and canning, will not be aided by day-old faith.  So I will speak to my soul today:  “Take strength!” in the bee-buzzing days of summer, because this practice today and the next day (and the day after . . .) sends grace downstream by training my heart in habits of strength for a day when the living is not so easy and grace might seem a little more difficult to find.

//

Beginning September 7th, I’ll be hosting a discussion group focused on Wendell Berry’s  Jayber Crow.  His story spans much of 20th century American history and demonstrates the poignancy of this quote from his musings:

“Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful.  There is always more to tell than can be told.”

 

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Photo in featured image by kazuend on Unsplash

Advertisements

Published by

Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

63 thoughts on “Sending Grace Downstream”

  1. I enjoyed this immensely. The whole 2nd paragraph was poetry. As I read, here in my humble abode in NYS, the fog is heavy, the air is cool. Yes, sadly it feels like autumn is on the rise. Thank you friend!

    Like

    1. Guess I gotta go back and re-read the second paragraph. And speaking of autumn, my good husband pointed out to me the other day that we’re seeing tinges of color on the edges of trees. I’m choosing to attribute this to the past few weeks of dry weather. 🙂 Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed reading.

      Like

  2. Michele, your beautiful words carved a deep groove into my heart today. I plan to copy this to put into my journal as I head off for my birthday personal retreat. Much thought lately upon how my todays are being woven into the “little old lady” I shall downstream become…

    Loved the line “… and grace is on the menu.” Actually, I loved every line you wrote. Thank you for this lovely blessing of grace that you have added to all our menus upon arising this morning!

    Grace to you!
    Lori in Missouri

    Like

  3. Michele, wonderful post. “Whether you can take what life dishes out depends on what you take first.” I want to take in His truth first each day so as to best handle whatever the day may bring. Thank you for sharing these words of grace today!

    Like

    1. Don’t you just love the gritty wisdom of Elisabeth Elliot? That woman brooked no slackers, but she sent so much downstream grace in her days on this planet that I’m still living on some of it!

      Like

  4. Michele, I loved your 2nd paragraph too. I live in the South, and am not a hot weather person. I feel a thrill when the temperatures drop. This morning I smiled when it actually felt good outside. Your perspective made me want to rethink how I look at these days.

    Like

    1. Every season brings its own beauty and blessing, and fall happens to be my favorite — once it gets here. With boy #3 headed off to college this fall, I think I’m hanging back into summer because the new school year brings so much change along with it. So glad that you are also finding reasons to rejoice in the passing of time!

      Like

  5. Your writing is always a joy to read! I choose to believe that the leaves changing are a result of dry weather too as we savor the remaining days of summer’s slower pace. At this point in my journey I am appreciating the gift of each day more and more. Your blog encourages me to store up so many things for the seasons ahead. Thank you!

    Like

    1. Thanks, Hope, for taking time to read and to share your thoughts. The lessons we need most change as the journey progresses, and I always appreciate words sent like bread crumbs on the path from those who are further along on their journey!

      Like

  6. I want a painting of the illustration of sending grace downstream for times and turbulence ahead. I need to remember this beautiful image, Michele. Thank you for it and especially for these profound words: I will choose to talk to myself more than I listen to myself. May it be so with me too!

    Like

  7. Such beautiful prose that leans toward poetic, Michele. I too have noticed the slanting shadows already, and I am blessed to live in the path of totality for the soon-approaching solar eclipse. We are marveling together at the glories in God’s creation this time of year.

    Like

  8. Oh, Michele– me too. I want to send grace downstream for the days ahead as well. I’m softly living these last weeks of summer too. Hope your final summer days of 2017 are as sweet as that watermelon, and that y’all have a wonderful start to your school year. — P.S. your post reminded me that I had some organic grapes in the fridge that I’d bought (the stores around me don’t often have organic grapes, so they’re a treat for me today) Went and washed them and have been eating them while reading your post. 🙂 (Of course you probably grow your own grapes too, haha. 🙂 ) ((xoxo))

    Like

  9. This post really touched me, Michele. The Grace of the Day, the Choosing of Our Words and Tasks, the Persevering. You sum it all up so beautifully and empower us to made today a good day. Thank you!

    Like

  10. What an awesome practice – to send grace to tomorrow by training my heart in habits of strength. Thank you for the insight.

    Like

    1. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to read this sentence, because if you “got it” that clearly, then maybe I really said what I intended to say in this piece. Thanks so much for reflecting back tome the heartbeat of what I hoped to say.

      Like

  11. Ok woman this is it. I’ve had enough of your awesomeness and talented writing. When I have to take out the old Webster’s and look up a word ? That is my limit to loyalty. FETLOCKS? What the hay? Of course you know I love you and will continue to be royal loyal and all that jazz!!! But, fetlocks? Com’on. Don’t only horses have fetlocks?

    Like

    1. Not sure where that came from, but I say it a lot. We’re “different” up here in Maine. Figures of speech, ya know. But, Susan, this is the best backhanded compliment I’ve ever gotten, so thanks.

      Like

  12. Love this! “there are character qualities and mindsets that need to be set in bedrock ahead of time so that the accumulated complaints of life will weigh like feathers in the balance against the collected weight of blessings.” Mmm, grace to savor. Praying for strength from grace today! Thank you!

    Like

  13. Michele,
    I love when you just write from that wonderfully poetic heart of yours. May my weighing of my blessings be greater than the lodging of my complaints. So thankful for His grace yesterday, today, and down the road tomorrow. I am finding that the more of His Word I take in the more grace I pour out….beautiful post and enjoy these last remnants of summer!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Like

  14. This: “I wonder if there’s a way to send grace downstream, like a note in a bottle, by deciding today how I will navigate the current of busy days around the next seasonal bend in the stream.”

    I think this a great deal. I want an advanced dose of grace for the moment when I am lease able to grab it on my own. I love your metaphor of preserves…preserving the moment, freezing it for when it is no longer in abundance so we can savor it again and it can give us the energy to ride out the colder seasons.

    Like

    1. Well, I think there’s something to be said for making decisions about how we will respond while we are still in our right minds. And the bag of raspberries I put in my freezer yesterday, the glorious red tomatoes that will be squishing their vitamins and juiciness into quart jars soon — they keep me thinking about the need for putting things by in good days, not out of a hoarding, faithlessness, but out of wisdom and self-knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Michele,
    Your beautiful words pricked my heart today. I’m writing this out on a notecard and putting it beside my bathroom mirror (the place where the spiritual truths I need to remember will be seen many times a day).
    Take strength!
    Don’t get tangled up in today’s mess!
    Even if I am faithless, He remains faithful!

    I’m so glad to have popped over from Sunday thoughts this week!
    Christy
    mywritingplayground.com

    Like

  16. When I used to work in a fabric store in early married days, we’d have a lot of “little old lady” customers, some sweet and some…not. I used to think that I sure hoped I’d end up one of the sweet ones. But of course, what I am doing and thinking today will shape that outcome. “There’s always enough grace” is a perfect motto for every stage of life.

    Your discussion on Jayber Crow interests me. That’s one of those books perpetually on the back burner TBR list, but I might try to work it in in time for your discussion.

    Like

  17. Michele, You have such a way with words. A true gift from the Lord.

    I recently finished a study on Colossians through the Walk in Grace Bible Study series. I saw Grace in a whole new light and it has been spiritual life changing.

    Your words here helped to add to what I am learning about grace.

    Thanks so much for sharing and sharing a glimpse into your life this summer.

    Like

  18. Great perspective, Michele. Love this, “God stands ready to meet my unsure with sure and to galvanize my wishy-washy with a firm foundation.” Stopping by from #GRITupAndGo. Blessings!

    Like

  19. Ah, Michele … I love this: “Today is a harbinger of the eventual.” Lke you, I want to grow into a godly old lady, one whose eyes and smile show that I’ve been nurturing the fruit of the Spirit in my mind and heart for a good long time. Thank you for this, my friend … refreshment for my soul in the midst of a hugely busy season!

    Like

  20. Hi Michele, As I was reading your post I was thinking “Wow, if she writes a book, I want to read it!” Until I got to the part about the “self-salvation strategy” – Ouch!!! You got a little close to home with my task oriented nature. 😉 I love, love the way your write. You are so engaging and you relay a deep, practical message. Thanks!

    Like

    1. Sorry about the bruised toes, Char. Another reader mentioned that phrase as well, and I was convicted all over again. I know it’s heresy, but I really act as if I believe that God will love me more if I finish my do list every day. Thankful for His message of NO Condemnation!

      Like

  21. Thanks so much, Michele, for reminding us that today matters… grace for today… each day… everyday… there’s always enough grace. Your words are a joy to read and bring such sweet encouragement! I especially like – Gratitude preserves joy, so I will persevere in the fight to train this oblivious heart to give thanks. This is so needed for me when I get overwhelmed by the challenges. Thanks for sending grace downstream.

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading, Carlie — and in these late summer days as I pile green beans up in my sink or squish tomatoes into canning jars, I’m also remembering God’s unfailing supply that is always available.

      Like

    1. From one soldier to another: Let’s take our strength from the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
      Yes, there’s always enough there — I’m dipping into it too as we prepare boy #3 for departure to college soon. Unbelievable how time flies and flees.

      Like

  22. Hmm… this is my second reading of your piece (it’s that good!) and I don’t see where I commented on it – I must have gotten distracted! I do so love the idea of “sending grace downstream.” I’m sure to need it!

    Also had a little chuckle over “my self-salvation strategy of the day (also known as my do-list).” As you know, I’m a great lover of to-do lists and I recognize what you are saying with the words self-salvation strategy…

    Like

    1. Yes, I’m working on that one. Somehow I just can’t shake the idea that if I get lots of checkmarks on that list, God will love me more. I know that’s heresy, but I act as if it’s true.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s