An Honest Account of Love, Grief and Walking With God
Finding God's Goodness in Life's Disappointments

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two Sides of the Coin of Grace



Two Sides of the Coin of Grace
Kerrville Daily Times Article
Kathleen Maxwell


October 23, 2012

God’s grace is something that has helped me thru many a hard days in my life. His grace is never rationed, in short supply or earned. It is always hanging around but sometimes it is hidden in plain sight because we do not understand it. Grace enables in a good way, anyone that will let it. So what is grace?

I think of grace like a coin. There are two sides to grace. It is a word that is often thrown around casually in many Christian circles but I have to wonder how many people that are Christians really understand it or access it. John 1:17 says, “ But the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth were given by Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

One side of the coin is defined as the free and unmerited favor of God on the undeserving or unmerited blessings. Grace is free and it is a gift from God. The truth is none of us deserve anything good, therefore, every good thing in our lives is simply a gift of grace. James 1:7 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father...” All that we have in our lives that is good is from God. That is really pretty humbling. As talented as some people are, at the end of the day, the talent comes from God’s favor in their lives. 

The other side of the coin can also be described as the desire and power to do what is right or what God tells us to do. It is the power to do something in and of ourselves we cannot do. God’s grace helps us.

Recently, I was reading in the book of Jonah and a scripture stood out to me. It says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be their.” (NIV) When I read it, I had to reread it again and again. What a powerful and pointed scripture!  I had to ask myself, “What am I clinging to that is worthless? Am I forfeiting God’s grace in my life in anyway?” Then I had to ask myself, “do I have any worthless things I am hanging on to that I need to let go of?” I have had to chew on this and be honest with myself. The answer to these questions is unfortunately yes.

Idols are not just wooden or metal objects. I would call an idol something that we put before our love for God. It can be a person, relationship or even a spouse or child. Another idol can be a job or hobby. It can be an addiction, money or even a house or car. All of these things are good, but become an idol when we put them before our love and worship of God. An idol is anything that occupies our focus and keeps us stuck. Often times idols are deceptive. We do not realize something has become an idol until God reveals it to us. Jesus came to give us grace and truth. Ask him to reveal truth to you and show you any idols you may have. 

In my early years of marriage, I loved God, went to church, did what I thought was right and loved my husband. All of those things are good but I became deceived. I began to look to my husband to make me happy instead of God. A good day or bad day was determined by if we got along, he told me he loved me, told me I was pretty and gave me enough attention. Thankfully, God began to reveal to me that I had made my husband an idol and I repented. Scripture is clear that we are to find our joy and satisfaction in God. The beauty of the story was when I repented, made my relationship with God my focus instead of my husband, my marriage was better.

 “I just do not have grace for that,”  was a frequent comment I could be heard saying when I did not want to do something. The truth was, I did not access the grace I needed because I either did not have the faith or wanted my way instead of God’s way. 

I recently talked to a young man that was recovering from an  alcohol addiction. As he shared his story with me, I told him about the scripture in Jonah. He wholeheartedly agreed that alcohol and drugs were his idol and that he spent too much time forfeiting God’s grace to quit his addiction. 

When I think of the word forfeit, I think of not even showing up to play the game. Forfeit means we do not even try. Are you resisting the grace that could be yours? Are you not even showing up and asking God for his grace?

Another way we forfeit grace is in the area of forgiveness. I remember the fall day over twenty years ago that I showed up to the soccer field with my son to practice. Standing on my son’s practice field, was someone who had hurt me a great deal. I could not believe our kids were on the same team! I went back to my car muttering to myself, “I know there is grace for this, I just have to find it!” As I sat in the car and vented to God, I finally surrendered to him, began to remove my idol of unforgiveness and hurt and ask him to give me the grace (power) to forgive my offender. Notice that at that point I could not even forgive, but I began by choosing God’s ways removing my idol by asking him for the power to do something that I knew I could not do by myself. The good news is that today I am friends with my offender. His grace was sufficient when I was obedient.

 II Corinthians 12:9. It says, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.”  It constantly reminds me that no matter what I face, His grace (power) is all I need. His grace walks with me and is like a shadow, it is always beside me. His grace grows in my weakness, therefore, my weakness is a good thing when I draw on Him.

I Peter 5:5 says, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This indicates that we need to humble ourselves instead of trying to do everything in our own strength. The next time you are challenged by a circumstance, do not forfeit the grace of God. Show up on his door step and ask for his help to lay down your idol. Do not let pride be your idol. I find that people that are not transparent with their lives and cannot admit when they are wrong have pride as an idol. Sometimes the most freeing words spoken are, “ I was wrong.” Too many times people are held captive by the thought that they are a mistake, instead of the fact that they are simply human and made a mistake. Do you need to say the freeing words, “I was wrong?” It does not indicate weakness but strength under control
God’s grace is waiting for you and me. His power to do what we cannot do ourselves is a tremendous gift. Do not waste the grace of God or forfeit His grace. His favor rises up to meet us daily and I am thankful that he is so good he does not give me what I deserve. Look at both sides of the coin of grace and spend it daily. Will you join me on the treasure hunt of discovering his incredible grace? Let me know what you find! I’d love to hear about your discovery.

Kathleen Maxwell is a native of the Hill Country, a social worker, writer and speaker. She is passionate about helping others discover the joy of walking with God and their value. You can contact her at kathleenmaxwell1@gmail.com and on her blog www.themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Birthdays, Wedding Countdown and a Wreck

What an amazing time the last few weeks have been. God has been teaching me much about hanging on to the grace he provides. There have been many opportunities I have had to seize His grace.

Work has been extremely demanding creating long hours. I enjoy helping others and believe in the project I am working on. I have had several speaking engagements as well as presentations for work so the schedule is challenging.

My dad had to go the the emergency room again last week with chest pains. He was sent home but nevertheless, it was another trip to the hospital. I think it is the 13th time in the last years. She and dad have been more dependent on me recently. Mom's illness if progressively affecting her mind. I have been over there several times a week in the evenings helping with various things.

Wedding planning has kept me quite busy. Stephen has a hunting business and dove season has kept me traveling to Uvalde to see him and riding in a pickup truck. If someone would have told me last year that I would be wedding planning in the hospital and in a pickup truck I would have wondered about them. It is coming together but it has been very busy. From planning table decorations to finding shoes it has been fun and has made my days long.
Stephen had a birthday on October 7th and I gave him a surprise birthday party. It was the first surprise birthday party he had ever had. I loved making his day special. Mallory turned 28 years old on the 7th too. She spent it with friends.


October 8th was the 3 year anniversary of losing Joe. This year was easier that the previous two years but there there were still waves reminding me of the loss. I couldn't help but think about God's faithfulness and how far he had brought all of us. That morning a deer ran out and hit me and did $3,000.00 damage to my car. I didn't even see it! The day wiped me...but I was over another hurdle!

Another door has opened for me to be on radio. I appear on a soft rock show on Sunday mornings at REV FM 94.3 The show is called "A Dose of the Ghost" and I was asked to share "A Maxwell Minute" several times in the hour.