“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Many things are separated by chapters. The use of chapters in books informs the reader that a new idea, story-line, etc. is being introduced and that one has reached its’ conclusion. Sometimes the authors will leave us sitting on a cliff-hanger, not entirely sure of what is to come next, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, it is time to turn the page and continue the journey that is found within. It turns out that life has chapters as well. A chapter for childhood; being raised up under the direction and strict discipline of our parents who teach us right from wrong, a chapter for teenage rebellion, a chapter for young-adults/college-students; learning a lot from your own mistakes, the grace shown by others, the hardships life has to potentially offer up at some point, and so on. Around this time last year, I was writing a post titled “Time Flies and Season’s Change” and how true that is! It is safe to say that I am not the same man that I was and it is fairly safe to say that you are not the exact same person that you were a year ago either…time changes things…it changes us…and as we change, a new chapter begins.
I graduated with the Class of 2008 from Olathe Northwest High School! Many of my peers graduated the same year and have recently completed their undergraduate studies at Kansas State University and other universities across the United States! Congratulations to those of you that were disciplined, demonstrated perseverance, and enough intelligence to graduate in the ever elusive four-year time period. To those of you that have another year or so to go…I’m right there with you!
Regardless of graduation status, many of us are turning the page and beginning to write the next chapter of our lives. Some are getting engaged, others starting relationships, some dedicating themselves to singleness for a period of time to seek out the LORD, some are ready and seeking, and some are ALREADY MARRIED.
Friends, graduates, brothers, sisters, married, unmarried, etc. I write to you today with a single appeal to our generation as we step into the next chapter of life; whether it be landing a corporate job, marrying the spouse of your dreams, devoting your life to full-time ministry, etc. I desire for all of you to keep this in mind as you take those steps…
Grace is absolutely essential to the advancement of the Kingdom of God and to the acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, grace is a rarity. We live in a judgmental society; passing judgement on one another for wrongdoings. In fact, calling someone judgmental is announcing judgement. Therefore, currently, as I write this, I am being judgmental. I NEED GRACE. Without your grace, I will be accused of bigotry and slander. With grace, this can be viewed as a message to encourage, challenge, and strengthen the Body.
Forgiveness is difficult. But God is love. And “[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) My friend Bryce recently wrote on his Facebook page, “Stars shine in a dark night as a reflection of the sun. Without the sun the stars can’t shine. Christians shine in a dark world as a reflection of Christ, [The Son]. We can’t shine without Christ.” We are indeed a reflection of our Savior…or…more accurately, we SHOULD be a reflection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. If this is the case, and it is, then we will learn to genuinely love others. We will grow in our ability to extend authentic, no-strings-attached, grace to one another and to others outside the community of Christ.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Paul, often viewed as one of the ‘superheros’ of The Church, was weak and sinful at the core, but he had given his life to God, submitted to him as His disciple, and rested in his position as one of God’s beloved children. If God’s grace was sufficient for him, then is sufficient for us as well.
LOVING OTHERS, without regard for their wrongdoings, and EXTENDING GRACE, even to those who have hurt you is NOT easy. I struggle with putting this into practice in my own life, but I am taking steps toward it and would love it if you joined me in this journey.
Let’s conclude the chapter of our lives where judgement, condemnation, and superficiality play starring roles…Pray with me that, as we turn the page in life to the next chapter, God would begin to write in ink the story of unconditional love, authentic grace, and overpowering redemption in each of our lives and in the lives of those we impact.
Humbled By Grace,