Coincidences or Grace

I asked my wife Juanell if she would like to preach for me in two weeks while I take some personal time off for reflection and restoration. She said she would. Since I follow the lectionary, she asked me what was the sermon text for that week. I got out my favorite lectionary guide and gave her the text. She smile and said, “This is the text I used for the lesson I gave at the state school this week. Was this a coincidence or an act of grace?

A few weeks ago, while finishing up at the Food Bank at the other church I serve (I serve a two church charge), I was putting up the last box of food we had put together for our clients (I prefer to call them community members) and then began to lock up the church. As I was locking up, I remembered that I had left a list of things I need to pick up at the store on my way home.  I had left the list in the kitchen area. As I picked up the list, I noticed their was a message on the church land line. I listen to the message. I was one of the people who normally came to the food bank. The voice had a desperate tone. They would not be able to make it to the food bank that day and wondered if it was possible for someone to bring it to their house. So I went back, got the one box (large box) of food and loaded it into my car and delivered the food to their house. Was my forgetting my list and finding that message a coincidence or was it grace.

These are just two of the countless experiences I have had in my life. I no longer believe in coincidences, but I do believe in the interaction of the grace of God in this world that take place continually with or without our being aware.

I am slowly (because of my hard headedness) learning that perhaps the greatest threat to anyone’s spiritual growth is that of despondency. Despondency is sometimes called acedia in the writings of the spiritual teachers of the past. It is a spiritual sickness that can distract us from the ever present reality of God’s activity in our lives. Despondency would like us to embrace coincidences rather than grasping the continually grace God seeks to give us in all situations and circumstances of life.

I am convinced God really does want a continual ongoing conversations with us. I am convinced that God speaks throughout our days in the language of events, encounters, thoughts, and moments. I also believe this language is very easy to understand if we will but just actively willing to let God be the teacher. This language is the language of grace.

This is my prayer, “God, please let me learn to hear your voice in everything I encounter this day and know that there are not coincidences, only your loving grace reaching out to us to help us understand what true reality is.”

 

Treasure in Jars of Clay

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In 2 Corinthians, we are told we have a treasure in “jars of clay.”

What is this treasure?

I believe it is a transformation of value. I believe it is a savings account for God. It has nothing to do with our salvation, but it can have an influence upon the salvation of others.

It believe this treasure is what remains when our lives go through the test of God’s fire. I believe this treasure is a reward of relationship and revelation that we will ultimately discover the true value only when we move beyond time into the Kingdom of God that is already replacing this reality.

I ask people today if they can remember people they when to school with who dropped out. Then, at that time, they thought this was in their best interest. As I have grown older, much older, I have never found a person who made this decision who know thinks they made the right choice.

Each day we make decisions that will have an impact on our lives now and in the future. The question we should always be asking ourselves is, “What decisions am I making for Jesus?” These decisions and the resulting actions will someday prove what kind of treasure God has been able to store in us.

Will we regret the decisions we have made. Will we find ourselves the spiritual drop outs of all eternity?

Seeking spiritual direction and involving ourselves in a more intentional spiritual life can help us discern what is likely treasure and what will be burned up as trash.