Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Katie Ganshert Contemplates God's Grace


Katie Ganshert is back with us today sharing a devotion that touches on one of the themes her heroine, Robin has to contemplate on--one we all do! I hope you'll join us Friday for our group review of Wishing on Willows! 


When I contemplate God’s grace, I often think about good things. Forgiveness, obviously. Restored relationships. Healing and freedom. Sometimes I even equate God’s grace with finding a spouse or getting a promotion at work or populating a big house with healthy children or fulfilling a dream.

But what if that’s only one side of the coin?

What if God’s grace comes wrapped in deferred dreams? Or broken relationships or scary prognoses from doctors or unemployment or infertility or any thorn that pierces our flesh?

As much as that empty tomb shouts “Grace! Grace!”, let’s not forget that the cross does too. With those nails and on that tree, grace and suffering are so tightly woven, the two are indecipherable.

I read the red words of Jesus—blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Mt 5:3-4) and I’m reminded of a woman I met in Africa. A woman, who by America’s standards, had nothing. Abandoned by her husband, sick with AIDS, six children in a squalid shack and somehow, she radiated joy. This woman didn’t have to wonder if God was enough, she knew it in the marrow of her bones.

There is a special blessing that comes in the midst of hardship. It’s in those moments, when we fall on our faces with nothing, our dreams dashed, our plans and our goals no longer, that we cling to Him with a ferocity we don’t find in the midst of prosperity. God’s presence is magnified in the hard. We don’t just have an intellectual knowledge about His strength, we experience it. It holds us together. It keeps us breathing.

And Paul’s nonsensical words—when I am weak, then I am strong? They make sense and our definition of grace expands.

Scripture:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
~Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

Prayer:
Father God, would your grace rain down, no matter what season or circumstance we find ourselves in. Hold us as we cling to You.

Have you found that special blessings come in the midst of hardship?




Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.
                                      
So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances. 

7 comments:

  1. "As much as that empty tomb shouts “Grace! Grace!”, let’s not forget that the cross does too." What a beautiful reminder!

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  2. Thanks for hosting Katie, Jessica! Wow, this question has lodged in my brain: "What if God’s grace comes wrapped in deferred dreams?" What an arresting picture of God's perfect timing. Yes, special blessings always come in the midst of hardship. The trick is remaining moldable enough in His hands to see it.

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  3. Beautiful thoughts, Katie. I have definitely found that I notice the grace much more when I'm downtrodden and have nowhere else to turn.

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  4. This reminds me of something a cousin of mine (who spent 18 months in Haiti as missionaries after the quake with her family said). In her safe, middle-class world, God's blessings meant she had found a great deal on new school clothes or was able to lay new flooring in her kitchen. And those ARE blessings. But, then she saw people who lived in tents and had literally nothing, praising God for THEIR blessings. God's grace is so good to be there not just in the good times, but the bad as well. We just have to open our eyes and recognize it.

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  5. So, so true, Katie. It's hard to look at that other side of the coin when we're in the midst of it. I often need some distance to recognize that my pain or "no" was a blessing. I've come to trust though that He's God in the yes, in the no, in the pain and in the good times.

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  6. I completely agree - there are special blessings that come during hardship, and afterwards too as we look back and realize what the Lord has done in our lives and in us.

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  7. Beautiful post! I'm reminded of Laura Story's song, "Blessings." Oftentimes God's biggest blessings DO come in the form of things we wouldn't choose for ourselves. It's when we experience difficulties that we find ourselves running to the Savior. God bless~

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