Getting Too Close to Grace

“You see, we can talk about grace, sing about grace, preach about grace, just so long as we do not get too close to it. Election is too close. When we give in to election, we finally give up on ourselves in the matter of salvation.The doctrine takes grace to its logical conclusion: if God saves me without my works, then He must choose me apart from them, too.” – from Putting Amazing Back Into Grace Michael Horton

The doctrine of election isn’t easy to understand. But, really, no more difficult than the Trinity. Believing in the Trinity doesn’t change the way we look at ourselves as much as election does. Election makes us face the fact that salvation is all of God, all of grace. It forces us to give up on that little thread of good works that we cling to. Good works are not a stepping stone to heaven, but rather a gift we are given that we are not to keep.

I still struggle with understanding sometimes, but I don’t doubt the truth of election. The last line in Horton’s quote above makes so much sense. He chose me and He saved me – in spite of me!

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering- Col.3:12

Sighs and Petitions

“The Christian’s heart is constantly sending up sighs and petitions to God, regardless of whether he happens to be eating or drinking or working. “ – Martin Luther

I know I do not pray enough. I try not to tell people I’m going to pray for them without actually doing it. “Prayers!” on facebook just isn’t enough, but neither are empty words. Guilty.

But God is patient and kind and puts up with my feeble prayers. I do believe He hears me when I don’t even realize I’m sending up those sighs and petitions. And I am grateful for those who I know are praying for me. Many prayers have lifted me up this past year.

Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, And you have strengthened the feeble knees;  -  Job 4:4

Hymns of Grace #4: It Is Well With My Soul

“…any God worth believing in is the God not only of the immensities of the galaxies I rejoice in at night when I walk the dogs, but also the God who cares about the sufferings of us human beings and is here, with us, for us, in our pain and in our joy… I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights.” -Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

This song has taken on new meaning for me this year. In peace and in sorrow, He is there. He is here.

It is providential that it was the hymn I read this past Sunday afternoon, still going through Aunt Marie’s hymnal. The story of this hymn was briefly mentioned that morning at church. You can read about it HERE.

Last year, my dear friend, Jeannie, gave me a necklace inscribed with this song title. It has become precious to me. I thank God for people like Horatio Spafford and Jeannie.

A year ago

A year ago today is when we got our first indication that our world was about to change. I won’t go into all the details, but when I realized Chuck was yellow, jaundiced, I knew I had to get him to the ER. I drove him to the Medical West ER in Hoover but had to drop him off because the Covid restrictions were already in place.

We were under contract on our house already. I went home to take care of marking our electrical box per the inspection, via a wonderful young man who walked me through it by phone and would not let me pay him.

Within an hour Chuck called. They had done a scan and found a mass on his pancreas. When I went to pick him up he was standing outside on the curb, looking so lost.

That day was the only time I remember him really crying. This gentle giant of a man curled up in our big brown chair in the living room and said, “I wonder who will be my pallbearers?”

Then he began his brief fight against the monster that raged within him. Pancreatic cancer. Our journey brought our children back together and then took us to Jacksonville where Chuck died two months after we first heard the words “mass on the pancreas”.

He had no pallbearers, but he is buried in a beautiful cemetery, along with his great-nephew, Wyatt. I can’t say life has gone on without him because he is a part of everyday for me. I see him in the kindness of his daughters and the laughter of his sons. I watched my grandson Everett play chess last Saturday with one of my son’s friends and I thought of how Chuck played chess with him even when he was ill. I’m grateful Everett will have those happy memories of Grandpa.

Everett and Grandpa, 2020

The Valley of Vision #3: My happy place

target.com

I hear the phrase “My happy place” fairly often. There are signs galore with this slogan, shops and even a deli with this name. But, yesterday’s reading in The Valley of Vision puts a whole different spin on “my happy place”,

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. The writings were gathered and edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England. 

From yesterday’s reading:

“…Cause me to be a mirror of Thy grace, to show others the joy of thy service, may my lips be well-tuned cymbals sounding Thy praise…Teach me the happy art of attending to things temporal with a mind intent of things eternal…”

“…Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit, my delight the gentle ranks of the meek. Let me always esteem others better than myself, and find in true humility an heirloom to two worlds.”


Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalm 146:5

hymns of grace #3: in the cross of christ I glory

When the woes of life o’er take me, hopes deceive and fears annoy, Never shall the cross forsake me: Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

This song is unfamiliar to me, so when I thought about how to sing it a song popped into my mind from recesses of my musical memories. It can be sung very well to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine”.

I like the last verse, “Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified…” It serves to remind us that all the pleasant and all the dreadful that we encounter are all ordained by God for our good.

Lovely Cards #2

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand…” Psalm 31:14-15

“What’s ahead?” has been in my mind for quite a while. I make plans because I have to go on, but I do so knowing those plans may change. My life and my times truly are in God’s Hands. I remember Chuck preaching a sermon using this very verse in Psalms – he knew then and he knew on his deathbed that he was in God’s hands.

Back in June of 2015, I wrote a post entitled When You Do Not Yet See the Way in which I quoted Andrew Murray – “Cultivate the habit of rejoicing in the assurance that the God of divine wisdom is guiding you, even where you do not yet see the way.

I don’t remember what was going on in my life at that time. It was long before the loss of my mother-in-law, my mom and my husband. I think it’s a lesson we learn and forget and have to relearn throughout our lives, that lesson of following in faith when we do not see the way.

The Valley of vision #1: He is my safe harbour.

September 26, 2018 – Oregon

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. I found a seemingly brand new copy among Chuck’s books. It has been an absolute blessing to me. The writings were gathered and edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England.

From today’s reading:

“I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.”

In this year, 2021, I launch my “boat” wholly dependent on my Father. I’ll use my oars and GPS. I’ll prepare for storms, but know that when the storms come, He is my safe harbour.

Texts from the past #8: dogs

Loretta
Ruby

As much as Chuck always said our dogs, first Loretta and then Ruby, were my dogs, I think they were really loyal to both of us.

We got Loretta when we became “empty nesters”. She came with the name Loretta Lynn and was fully trained. Described by her previous owners as an “old soul”, she fit smoothly into our now little family of two.

When our grandson Everett was born, we left her for over 14 hours and she never had an accident. That girl had a bladder of steel! Then Juliette came along and adored her, calling her “The Doretta”. We had her for ten years, until she died suddenly, with only a few hours notice that something was wrong. We went to bed that night with her asleep on our bedroom rug, and we both woke up about 2am. We got up to check on her, sitting on the floor next to her. She breathed two breaths and she was gone.

I didn’t plan to get another dog so soon, but it was sad coming home from work without a sweet dog to greet me. We went to the county shelter looking for a specific dog, but ended up with Ruby, who if you just saw her face you would have thought we’d cloned Loretta. Ruby turned out to be the cuddliest dog I’ve ever been around. And I thank God that I have her still to cuddle with and play with and just be with everyday. She is my constant companion.


May 12, 2017. C: Loretta  may be having a rough time right now. Bad storm in our area. (Loretta was scared of the least storm noise, fireworks, and even banging pots in the kitchen).

April 3, 2018. C: Oh my, we have an Earl sighting (This was our code name for Squirrel)

April 26, 2018. Me: I just saw a baby Pearl. C: Must’ve been tiny. Turl. (Since we now had chipmunks, we began also calling them Pearl)

November 7, 2018. Me: Bringing up the garbage can without Loretta running her little route was hard. C: I’m sure. I think about her when I leave for work and not having to close the study door.  Me: And even though she never said a word it sure is quiet around here this afternoon.  C: Sorry.

We got Ruby right after our 40th “Ruby” anniversary, hence the name.

Dec 27, 2018 (I Sent pic of Ruby) Me: She is so gentle natured. I think she’s already asleep.  C: Maybe she’s relaxed from both the surgery ( being spayed) and the loud shelter. She looks like a sweetie.

Dec. 28, 2018. Me: Somebody pooped outside. C: Did she let you know or did you just take her out? Me: I just took her out. C: That’s still progress. (We were like parents with a newborn).