Yet old words can take on new meaning. Grace has for me.
My late husband, Rick Ferguson, in a sermon series some years ago crafted this definition of grace: "The disposition, pursuit and provision of God toward fallen men, whereby He freely offers Himself as a sufficient resource for their every need." Yes, a mouthful -- yet a rich picture of the grace of God.
He is a sufficient resource for every need. God by His grace empowers us to do things we would not otherwise have the strength to do on our own.
My first understanding of grace came with my own childhood salvation. Jesus Christ was a sufficient Savior to provide for my need to be made right with God. I did not have in my own strength the ability to be right with the God who created me.
"Saved by grace" is the entry point of relationship with the God. Yet, God's grace does not end there. His grace to BE the resource for every need is His perpetual disposition to us.
Eleven years ago on Thanksgiving my "every need" was recent widowhood. At our Thanksgiving table was an empty plate and empty chair that left us devastated, brokenhearted and grieving. It was a meal that was nearly unbearable to my heart. I remember it well.
Does God offer Himself as a sufficient resource for the common human experience of death that seems to come far too soon? He does. His tender care, His mercy, the hope of heaven and His strength in the midst of our weaknesses was more real to that 45-year-old widow than I can recount. With tears in our eyes, He was enabling us to walk even if feebly so.
On this Thanksgiving I look back on the years that have swiftly passed. His grace, His sufficient resource for my every need has not failed, even in dark days of grief, financial uncertainty, single parenting, disappointment and loneliness. He truly empowered me to do things I did not have the strength to do on my own by grace.
Perhaps as you face this holiday season you also have a bitterly empty place at your table. The heartache of that is overwhelming. Let me remind you and testify to this truth: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
I am thankful for grace. It truly is amazing.
Kathy Ferguson Litton is the North American Mission Board's national consultant for ministry to pastors' wives. Her husband, Ed Litton, is pastor of First Baptist North Mobile in Saraland, Ala. This column first appeared at NAMB's www.Flourish.me website, an online equipping community for ministers' wives.
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