On Thanksgiving Day and most days across America and around the world, people pause while the food is steaming hot, join hands around the table, and give thanks. Sometimes, we call it, “Saying grace.” It might be a memorized prayer passed down from previous generations, a silent prayer or a spontaneous expression of thanks led by a family member. Whatever your custom, I love these words by Jackie Windspear, “Grace isn’t a prayer you say before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.”
Grace-filled living is as rare and unique as authentic heart-filled prayer around the dinner table. Whether it is aging gracefully, treating others with grace or experiencing grace, it’s just not that common. Yet, when it comes down to it, most all of us would really like to be remembered for our grace. We want our lives to be filled with the rich cornucopia of grace—gentleness, love, kindness, peace, purpose, gratitude, abundance, beauty and joy.
What does a grace-filled life look like? What are the key ingredients necessary so you and others will recognize a graceful life when they see it? Let me suggest a few:
Receive God’s Grace – You can’t give away what you haven’t received or experienced. God is the ultimate dispenser and model for grace. Romans 5:6-8 gives us a compelling picture, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Receive the Grace of Others – How well do you receive compliments? When someone comments on your new haircut, your bold, visionary idea at work, do you take it in? Do you let it fill your heart and soul with appreciation and joy? Or do you laugh in embarrassment and wave it off? Perhaps you shrug your shoulders and mumble, “Oh, it’s nothing.”
In contrast, make eye contact, let it soak in and say a deeply meant, “Thank you, that means so much to me.” Without gratitude, you can never feel emotionally and spiritually full. You can never accept and trust that life is joyous and rewarding. And while you may say grace before a meal, the point of a life well lived is to live in grace as much as possible. That can only happen when gratitude becomes you.
Make a Daily Decision to Live In Grace – What does it mean to live in grace? First you experience gratitude for what you have. You receive and realize God’s grace on a daily basis. You appreciate the gifts that come with your everyday life–even the challenges that help you grow. It allows you to more fully experience and appreciate all that happens. In time, grace and gratitude become part of your identity. Little by little, you start to notice how receiving and giving grace becomes more natural to you, almost instinctive–a kind of everyday grace.
When you begin to live in grace and receive it as a natural part of everyday life, it becomes much easier to extend grace to others. What we are overflowing with, spills out and splashes on others. We can freely give what we have freely received.
So this week, and every week, make it a practice to see the opportunity in the crisis, the blessing in the disappointment, and the joy when it goes just like you want it to. When you do, grace will, indeed, become a way of living.
QUESTION: How are you learning to live in grace? We would love to learn from you as you share in the comment section below.