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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Marvelous, Infinite, Matchless Grace

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” - Ps. 126:3

Grace. It is a word which has often been on my mind. God’s grace is something which I know in my head and experience in my life on a daily basis. I experience God’s common grace (the grace which is showered out on every human on earth) daily. “… For He [God] makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” - Matt. 5:45 “The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.” - Ps. 145:9

I experienced God’s saving grace when I was five years old and recognized that I did not meet God’s standard of holiness and came to understand (in my limited understanding at that age) that God had made a way for me to have a right relationship with Him through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. I saw my need to confess the wrong things I had done (yep, even at 5, that was a fairly decent list), and ask Jesus to save and cleanse me and be the new ruler of my life. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” - Eph. 2:8-9 “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” - Rom. 5:8

I continue to experience God’s sanctifying grace as His grace enables me to become more like Jesus. I have a long way to go, and could not do it on my own! “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” - Phil. 2:13 “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” - 1 Tim. 6:11-12 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:9-11

And the list of other ways I see God’s specific grace in my life is long. A few selections: A wonderful family, a godly heritage, physical health, great training in walking with the Lord during my years at home, in college, and beyond, my church family (both local and universal), friends through all seasons of life, education, opportunities to see firsthand God’s work around the world, bringing Kelsey into my life and the over 8 years of marriage to her, the new members of my family which I gained from that marriage, the joy of welcoming Alexa into our family, my work and the flexibility it offered during Kelsey’s battle with cancer and after she stepped into eternity, direction, perseverance and guidance in single parenting, getting a different glimpse into God’s sovereignty even in times that are very difficult, and recently, bringing an incredibly godly woman into my life who not only puts up with me, but says she actually enjoys being around me!

As I thought about this post, and thought about those of you who have walked through the difficult journey which began on March 4, 2013 as Kelsey noticed a knot in her right forearm, I was struck by the fact that even in the midst of those dark times, God’s grace was apparent. For those of you who don’t know about this journey (and might want to), you can start back with the first post that Kelsey posted after she had heard the word “cancer” from the orthopedic surgeon she visited: It leads up to July 5, 2014, when Kelsey stepped into the next life where she is now completely cancer free: And I realized that even if God had done NONE of the things that He has done in my life, even by having life and not being destroyed because of the fact I have not lived up to God’s standard of holiness, I would have experienced His grace: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” - Lam. 3:22

God could have dealt very differently with me and with all of us. He could have destroyed us completely when we turned our backs on Him. But, He showered us with grace.

He doesn’t promise happy endings on this earth, but there is a joyful ending promised to all who choose to believe in Jesus. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.’” - Rev. 21:3-7

I realize there may be many of you who are walking through hard times of your own right now and may not be feeling God’s grace. But, I can assure you God’s grace is there. And it will be there, whether you survive your sickness or not, whether you get married or not, whether you and your spouse can resolve the conflict you are walking through or not, whether you can have children or not, whether your children choose to walk with the Lord or not. WHATEVER you either experience or don’t, God’s grace is constant!

So, if any of you are still reading at this point, know this happy news is tempered with the recognition that our happiness is not guaranteed on earth. What is that happy news, you may ask? On May 13th, Sarah Malone said “yes” to the prospect of being my wife, to stepping into our family and walking through the “as long as we both shall live” which is to come! What grace! Sarah is an amazing young woman who loves God, loves people, loves children, has been willing to embrace all of the nuances of my life, is compassionate, caring, hospitable, beautiful … and the list goes on. What a joy it is to be able to enter into this new adventure at our wedding on August 12th! Sarah will be moving to Norman on July 10th and staying with a dear couple from our church. What fun it will be to have her closer than Louisville, KY!

A few pictures (from our proposal/engagement photo shoot):

I know many of you have been following this journey and may want to celebrate with us. We sent a LOT of invitations, but I know there are others who have faithfully read and prayed who did not receive an invitation. So, if you want to come to our wedding, we would love to have you! There is a website for you to visit and RSVP if you would like to attend (it also has all of the important details like time and location):

Prayer requests:
-- Alexa’s understanding/adjustment in this new stage of life.
-- Alexa’s salvation.
-- Special time for Alexa and Sarah to spend together before the wedding.
-- Wisdom for both Sarah and me as we walk into this adventure and balance the various aspects of life both before and after our marriage.
-- Wedding details
-- Wisdom in how to point others toward Christ now and in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Chris & Sarah!! I do believe that Kelsey had a hand in joining you three together ~ continued prayers and blessings for you all as you begin this next chapter in your lives...may you live Happily ever after! A friend from McAlester, Benji