God’s Painful Grace

There was a time when I believed God’s grace to be something that was always comforting, always miraculous, always a blissfully joyful thing to experience. And it IS all of those things, but not always. Yes, God’s grace has brought me to thankful tears. God’s grace has brought relief and happiness to my heart. God’s grace has overwhelmed me as a loving force that cannot quite be put into words, where I’ve simply felt waves of love washing over me.

But, recently, as I have reflected on some very pivotal moments in my life, I’ve come to also notice a pattern of what I’ll call “painful grace”. This often comes in the form of shattered dreams, a broken heart, a lost job and the like. And it’s not until you’ve come completely out of the situation and (significant) time has passed, and the heart is open for lessons to be gleaned from the experience, that you realize that it was God’s grace at work in those difficult moments also.

At the time, we can rarely see it as grace, because we’re in the throes of pain and disappointment. We’re grieving, lamenting, mourning. It’s difficult to see clearly when we’re in the middle of grappling with the “why” and “how” of our agonizing experiences. But, in hindsight, we can see God’s hand of grace in those very situations.

Later, after the fact, we see that God’s grace in our losing that job was that He was moving us out of our comfort zone, or perhaps removing us from a place with no growth opportunity, or maybe removing us from a toxic work environment so that we could move onto the next opportunity that He had for us. If we’d not have been ‘moved’ from that position, we might have remained in a place of stagnancy and/or missed out on the next chapter God had for us for career growth and change.

After the fact, we see that God’s grace in that failed relationship was Him moving us out of an unhealthy situation, or saving us from a lifetime commitment with a toxic person, or saving us from a situation were we’d have been ill-matched or not truly valued.  However, by His grace, He ‘moved’ us out of that situation so that we could be free to move into a place of self-growth and healing, and/or into a place of preparation for a better future relationship.

After the fact, we can see that God’s grace in that failed business or shattered dream was Him repositioning us. He was re-routing us to an even greater purpose and more fulfilling dream. That ‘failure’ caused us to rethink life, upgrade our perspective, and brainstorm a new, more innovative plan or idea than we would’ve thought of if we’d have not experienced that failure. I once heard Bishop TD Jakes saying something to the effect of – ‘what if our failures are really our gateways to the next phase of our purpose?!’ [paraphrased]

Ohhh, God’s painful grace! We do not readily embrace it. We fight it. We even hate it, because at the time it does not seem like grace… It only feels like pain. But, if our hand is in God’s hand, shouldn’t we trust Him to lead us through this process? To refine us? To grow us? Even if at times His grace is painful?

©2019 Life Together with Kay Dee, “God’s Painful Grace”

photo credit: morguefile.com

Moments of Clarity – Karate Kid Lessons

Do you ever have those “moments of clarity”, when all of a sudden you “get” (understand) at least partially why your life is going a certain way (and that way is usually in complete contrast to your desires)?

Yeah, me too.
I personally think God allows us these mini “a-ha” moments so that we don’t lose heart altogether. Like for me, recently, through a series of events (including my personal prayer time, etc.) I was clearer on certain things. I said to my self, “Ohhhhhh!!! Yeah! I get it.” And then I was super happy because I felt like I “had a clue” for once.

The problem with this…at least for people like me, is this — We want to put these revelatory moments on “continuous play” all day, every day.  However, these moments of revelation serve their purpose to enlighten and then they are done. Now, armed with this new knowledge, you have to move forward in the drudgery of daily life operating on such knowledge until the next “a-ha” moment. I don’t know about you, but, sometimes I’d like an ‘IV drip’ of that euphoric feeling [and no, not by anything artificial or illegal]. I just wish you could feel that natural excitement of having learned or realized something new…on a continuous basis.  But, that’s not life, is it? Much of life is just plain old …plain. Or maybe better words would be – uneventful, normal, status quo. It’s just life.

Not always fun.
But it’s reality.

Many times I remind others that your seasons of “waiting” are training ground for learning many lessons that will prepare you for the next season of your life (whatever that may be). It’s hard when we don’t see the point of the lessons. If you’re an old school movie buff, take the ORIGINAL Karate Kid movie. The main character Daniel wanted to learn karate because he was being bullied. He found out the maintenance man at his apartment complex (Mr. Miyagi) knew karate because he came to Daniel’s rescue when Daniel was being jumped by a group of kids one night. After this incident, Mr. Miyagi took Daniel to confront the bullies at the local dojo and tried to make peace. This request was flatly rejected by the sensei.  Therefore Mr. Miyagi came up with ‘plan B’.  He offered that Daniel would enter a tournament to compete against the students who beat him up, in a fair environment.  The proposition was that the bullying would cease so that Daniel could train. This was agreed to.

Mr. Miyagi then began to “train” Daniel at his house by way of making him do certain chores on his property. But, Daniel had to do the chores in a certain manner, with particular movements. Daniel didn’t see the point of all of this. He got fed up after a few days. His shoulder was hurting and he was exhausted. He decided to confront Mr. Miyagi about it and then he intended to quit. He quite disrespectfully told off Mr. Miyagi and complained that he was supposed to be learning karate instead of cleaning his property.  Mr. Miyagi got Daniel’s attention by healing the shoulder on the spot.  Daniel was dumbfounded.  Mr. Miyagi proceeded to tell Daniel “…Show me ‘wax on, wax off'”, “show me ‘paint the fence'”. The specific movements Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel while working, were in fact karate movements to Daniel’s amazement. You saw the “lights go on” for Daniel.

In this process of continued training, he teaches Daniel that karate is not about beating people up, it’s about discipline and respect among other things.

What “pointless”, mundane, every day chores or duties are you handling at this present time in your life and you don’t see the purpose for them? Like Daniel, you even get angry and yell, “I can’t do this anymore. I quit!” And you try to find an alternative route that ends up being more messy or harmful than helpful. However, these seasons have a purpose. The skills you are learning now may seem extremely useless. But, as you move forward, and are allowed bits of revelation along the way, things will become clearer, and they will come together at the right time.  For example, you will see how organizing those luncheons will teach you about organizing larger events. Or perhaps you will see how managing that small group of diverse personalities will help you to manage an more expansive and more diverse group of people later on.

You are working toward your goal, but, the fruition of that goal may not yet be possible because you haven’t yet acquired all of the necessary skills, tools and knowledge to step into that new season of your life. My friends, God will move you into that season at the right time. He knows when, where and how to bring it all together. If you don’t believe in God, that’s fine. But the principle remains. Your periods of waiting have purpose even if you do not yet see what that purpose is. They are preparing you for greater good and if you do not learn these lessons now, how will you then function fully in the place where God is leading you, or where you are supposed to be?

For Christians, trust God knowing there is a purpose in this waiting season.
For non-Christians, still, remember this process has a purpose in order for you to get where you need to be.

I would be remiss if I didn’t post the “wax on, wax off” clip.  Enjoy! And BE ENCOURAGED!

“Not everything is as seem…” – Mr. Miyagi

karate

© KD Corner 2014 “Moments of Clarity – Karate Kid Lessons”