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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Grace: Under Pressure

There's a popular quote that says "Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says 'Oh [crap], she's awake!'" (edited for language; quote by Nancy Naigle). While it's a little tongue-in-cheek, there's an important Biblical principle embedded in this quote. Recently I've been asking myself: do I live my life in such a way that Satan sees me as a threat, or as a pawn? I firmly believe that when we dedicate ourselves to pursuing God and His will for our lives, Satan increases his attacks in an effort to thwart us. There's nothing more dangerous to his plans than an effective and passionate follower of Christ. To that end, as soon as I publicly stated my focus on grace in the last post, I quickly realized that Satan took it as a challenge. So began open season on Cassie! Yikes! The last few weeks have been tough, to say the least...

I am a firm believer in the reality of spiritual warfare, and it always amazes and humbles me to watch God work in the small moments and battles of everyday life. As the flu ravaged our home for almost two weeks, there were so many tiny glimpses of God's grace: Coffee delivered to our doorstep by a generous and caring friend; my husband arriving home from his business trip just as I became too ill to function properly; my husband's willingness to shoulder everything for a few days as I recuperated; and my sweet little girl squeaking "I love you, Mommy," as I cleaned her up after she was ill. These moments served as quiet, momentary infusions of peace and strength in an otherwise exhausting and discouraging period.

At the same time, another way in which God's grace has been evident in my life is through a very special book that I read last month. Thirty-One Prayers for My Husband: Seeing God Move in His Heart by Jennifer Smith (founder of The Unveiled Wife, is a collection of daily prayers for women to use to help teach them how to pray for different aspects of their husband's spiritual walk. I chose to use these as a foundation for my daily prayers throughout the month of March (which conveniently has 31 days...). The result is perhaps predictable, but it still surprised me.

I didn't so much see change in my husband's life as my own. 

I looked forward to reading those prayers and adding my own heartfelt concerns for my husband and our marriage. I found myself returning to the principles behind each prayer throughout the day. In doing so, I was learning to apply principles such as compassion and encouragement in my own efforts to strengthen our marriage. What I thought were going to be prayers to help change my husband in fact turned out to be prayers that changed my own heart. I should have seen that coming!

I also found that each prayer was perfectly timed for what was going on in our lives. God's timing is always perfect to help guide and grow our hearts. I was so blessed by them that I've decided to continue to use the 31 prayers indefinitely, even though obviously not every month has exactly 31 days. I love how this daily habit puts my husband even more prominently in my thoughts and prayers, and helps me ensure that I am covering our marriage in prayer everyday. Satan threw a lot at us this month, just through the relatively normal stressors of life. Knowing that we were covered in prayer helped give me confidence and peace, even when I felt like I was losing the daily battle.

Lastly, I have to say that March taught me so much more than I anticipated as far as how to accept grace. Illness and other myriad issues humbled me and forced me to ask for help, from God and from others. In doing so, I was able to find new strength and peace in the knowledge that I don't have to do everything alone. I'm not alone; I never have been, and I never will be. I'm embarrassed to admit that I forget that foundational little fact more often than I remember it, so I end up thrashing blindly and looking like a fool while trying to fight battles God has already won. Accepting grace in its many wonderful forms makes me stronger, not weaker. As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) says: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." I like that translation because it affirms that even when life is at its craziest, when the flaming arrows are zipping past us on all sides, we can have confidence in God's grace. His spirit of power, love, and a sound mind are within us, helping us stay confident and, dare I say it, sane in the midst of chaos. A sound mind  speaks of self-discipline and peace that can only be the result of grace - God's grace.

I hope you are encouraged this week, and that you are able to face your battles with confidence and peace. I pray that you are overwhelmed by God's grace in new and exciting ways. Until next time, I remain,

hapless but hopeful,