“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” ~ John 1:16
Today we are beginning a study of Chuck Swindoll’s book The Grace Awakening. Please feel free to participate even if you only want to read through our discussions in the comment section. I want this to be a stress free time and I know how busy life can be. If you want to get a copy of the book, there are many available online, new or used, and it comes in Kindle form as well. I know you will be blessed by the book if you can read it.
My goal is to take us through a chapter each week beginning with an introduction today and then Chapter One on July 30. I will be posting the week’s study here every Monday morning and will add some thoughts through the week in the comment section as we discuss and make application. I am so looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Please feel free to invite friends along if you like, too!
The Grace Awakening ~ Introduction
When the new state prison was built in our town and before prisoners came to live there, the warden hosted an open house. Visitors could either tour the facility and leave or they had the choice of spending the night locked up in the state of the art facility, unable to leave until morning.
One of my friends, who was a criminal defense attorney, decided to spend the night. In telling us about his experience later, he said that he had never imagined the sense of dread and helplessness someone could feel in that situation, even though he knew he would be a free man in the morning; those 12 hours were some of the longest of his life.
Over the years I have heard many stories from homeschooling moms who feel trapped, not in their families or in their marriages, not in their homes or in their homeschooling choice. Rather, they are being held prisoner by the performance expectations of others and the lists and rules that tell them what “godly womanhood” looks like.
My heart has grieved with each of those conversations because I have been there! I have often placed those heavy burdens on myself and sometimes I still struggle with that. And worst of all, to my shame, I have placed those same burdens on others.
It wasn’t until our family experienced walking through some truly deep waters of spiritual abuse that I began to understand how deadly and costly legalism can be. And it wasn’t until I took a good, long look at Jesus and His expectations that I began to understand what living a grace-filled life might look like and it began with this promise:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I began to ask myself what burdens I was carrying that prevented me from enjoying rest in Jesus. What was keeping me in spiritual prison?
One day as I read through the book of Jonah, this verse jumped out at me and I could not get past it. The Lord was impressing on me the answer to my questions:
“Those who follow worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8)
There were so many things in my own life that had become idols, things that were taking the place of truly enjoying Christ and my salvation in Him. It affected my expectations on myself, on my family, and on the family of God. It caused a storm cloud to hover over any meaningful worship. It prevented me from enjoying the Bible. It kept me from wallowing in the joy of one anothering and trusting the sovereignty of God in everything. When I realized I had chosen to forfeit that grace, it was a wake-up call to living!
This week, I encourage you to consider these things and, if you feel comfortable sharing, leave your comments and thoughts here.
What are those burdens that weigh you down, those things that are always with you, sitting in the back of your mind? How did they get there?
What are those things in your own life that are worthless idols?
What scares you about living a grace-filled life?
Tomorrow I will add some more thoughts.
For next week, we will discuss Chapter One of The Grace Awakening.