On the Side - April 2015
Just Enough Grace
By Carol Shrader
Last week I met with a sweet young Mama. This Mom has an adorable toddler who keeps her busy, but she also has an angel in heaven whom she had the privilege of holding in her arms for only six months. Little baby girl is now free of the myriad of medical issues that affected her young life, but young Mom has some scars. Today, her husband is ready to have another baby. But my young friend is terrified that she will have another child with severe, life-threatening special needs.
By the time she finished her story, we were both crying and then she said, “If I can just get to a point where I know I can handle it, I will be willing to try to get pregnant.”
I lovingly laughed out loud.
“Oh sweet friend, you will not get to that point. You will not ever be able to handle it today because frankly, you don’t need to handle it today. God will not give you the mandatory grace and abilities until you NEED them. He won’t. It might not even be His plan for you to have another special child.”
As I drove home, I pondered the conversation. I pondered my advice. And I remembered:
When the doctors said my Daddy had only a few months to live, I could not process the news. My young husband found me curled up in a ball when he came home. I told him I didn’t think I could live without my Dad in my life. I felt it sharply. I felt what I was saying was the absolute truth. And 20 years later, I miss that man every single day, but guess what? God’s grace held me, carried me and sustains me even today. I have been able to live.
“Lord be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” Isaiah 33:2 (NIV)
When the doctors told us that Wade and I were expecting triplets with our first pregnancy, I feared the ability to nurture and care for all three equally – much less ever shower again. I fretted, and worried and devised plans. I didn’t have the God-given grace and ability I needed yet. I didn’t need it until the day they were born. God has met every need my children have by giving me skills, abilities and a heart that simply didn’t exist in me until He grew it at the appropriate time.
When Wade was preparing for medical school to end and residency to begin, I wanted a book. I searched for a how-to manual of any kind. How in the world was I supposed to support him throughout residency without an instruction manual? I imagined the worst. I made up problems in my head. I was absolutely and completely certain that I would not be able to handle his work hours, the single-motherhood, the running of the house all without my guy.
You know how this ends, right? God met me every single morning. Every single morning, His mercies were made fresh. Oh, there were plenty of days that my flesh got involved and I ranted, raved and whined my way through the day. There were plenty of days when I wanted my more time with my guy; plenty of days where I wanted more of a break for all of us. But when I depended on the One, who knew exactly the plan He had for my life – for Wade’s life and for the lives of our children, the days were smoother, the tasks less insurmountable, the road paved with grace to cope.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)
Oh ladies, we serve a God who gives and gives. His mercies never fail and His compassions are new every single morning. Every single. I love the second part of this verse as well – He is our portion.
Merriam-Webster defines portion as “An individual’s share.” When talking about food, M-W says a portion means “enough.”
There have been other occasions in my life where I knew His grace was sufficient, and yet, I doubted that would be enough. I doubted. But the portion, our portion of grace, compassion and mercy every single morning is enough. Always.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-27, 31-34 (NIV)
We just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We can ponder, fret and try our best to figure it out. We still won’t really know. We can look at the road ahead of us and attempt to plan through all the obstacles, but ladies, we simply do not have the tools at our disposal until we need them.
But when you do – this you can count on – God will be there. He will be there with new mercies – skills, friends, compassion you never knew you had – exactly when you need it. Exactly the portion you need. Can you rest in knowing that God will meet us right when we wake, with the exact amount of grace we require to move forward with our day?
Isn’t that a relief?
Carol Shrader’s necessary portion for grace is increasing daily as she and her husband, Wade, prepare to move back to Mississippi. She might require an even larger portion in August when those teeny tiny triplets she wasn’t sure she could nurture head to college! Thankfully, she will still have her little red, 9-year-old Cate, at home and a goofy dog named Pluto!