Monday, April 22, 2013

Grace in Preparation

I wonder if it's a coincidence that God always reveals Himself to me on the hard days...ones where Eden was up all night from those darn teeth coming in. The ones where I choke back tears as I pour my cup of coffee and pray for the grace to be patient. Well today was exactly that day and God revealed Himself to me while the girls and I were out for a walk. We donned winter jackets from the back of the closet, gathered sandwich bags, and ventured out into the chilly "spring" day to chase grace and look for God's beauty. As the girls filled their bags with rocks and small pine cones covered in a dusting of pollen, I prayed. Prayed for the eyes to see God here as the wind whipped our hair and my warm bed beckoned my tired body. My thoughts turned to the dirty breakfast dishes waiting for me at home and the two baskets of laundry that waited for my hand's attention. I marveled at how much of life we spend preparing for something. Pastors spend hours preparing sermons, students days and long nights preparing for exams, pregnant mothers preparing for the babe soon to arrive, anxious boyfriends preparing to ask their love to be their brides...and the list goes on to include preparing for each day by getting clothes and towels clean, food ready to be consumed, and homes presentable to welcome our families. We spend FAR more time preparing than we spend enjoying the fruit of our labor.
Thankfully, God showed up in this downward spiral of my thoughts and brought to mind something I learned from Ann Voscamp on her blog recently. She highlighted a few things she had learned from Gideon in the book of Judges. The one that stood out to my brain today was the way the angel of the Lord responded to the meal Gideon had prepared for him.

"Then the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth." Judges 6:20

Not sure about you Saints, but I have watched as my children have "poured out the broth" I have just labored hours over onto the rug beneath the table and my response has been anything but lovely. Back in Gideon's time, preparing a meal was even more labor intensive than it is now with conveniences such as the oven, microwave, and stove. He had poured much into the meal and probably never expected that the response to it would basically be, "Thanks, now pour it out." Talk about disappointment!

But in reality, isn't that what we're all supposed to do with the offering we've prepared? The meal that takes an hour to cook and minutes to consume is not wasted simply by it's quick consumption. The exam that took 2 all nighters to prepare for only to come back with a blazing red "C" circled on it isn't wasted simply by the grade received. You see God, is in the preparation...God is a God of moments and motives and cares far more about the process of preparation than the result we work so hard for. And here is the whole breakdown of the discouragement and failure we heap onto ourselves. We humans are so focused on results that we miss the offering of the process and the beauty of the offering being poured out.

Judges 6:21 gives us the picture of how God received the meal poured out
"The angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meal and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened bread."

God took Gideon's hard labored offering and consumed it with magnificence and splendor. He showed up in glory and fire and gave us all the picture of how He responds to a gift poured out. Friend, he sees it all and the more effort put into our preparation, the more glory He receives.

So what ever your week holds from the laundry to the paper waiting to be written or the phone call you've put off for weeks, chase the grace waiting in each moment and let your heart be encouraged when you release the work of your hands into the fire of God

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