Grace in Anxiety

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I was driving the other day listening to a Malcolm Smith sermon when he told this story about preaching once in perhaps the Philippines and there were communist guards ready for him to say something that gave them the ‘right’ to take him. He talked about being afraid of the guards at either end of the platform he was standing on.

And there was that feeling–you know, I don’t have the feeling. I don’t think I can go through with this kind of thing.

And the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly, “You don’t have the grace to die because you’re not dying. You don’t have the grace to be persecuted because you’re not being persecuted. I’ve given you grace to teach so get on and do it.

And I realized you never get grace you don’t need today. You have grace for the situation you find yourself in.

The Joy of Jesus in Us | Unconditional Love podcast by Malcolm Smith| Sept 25, 2018

It struck me that there are two sides to this topic of grace–the situations we find ourselves in unexpectedly and the situations we put ourselves in because God has called us to them.

Grace in Anxiety

We are, as statistics will reinforce, a more anxious society now then we have ever been. Like Malcolm in that moment we are afraid of all sorts of possibilities of what might happen to us or to those we love. We are highly anxious experiencing uncontrollable panic attacks. And we are mildly anxious, worrying about all sorts of things throughout our day.

Will my bills get paid.
Do I have enough food to feed my family today? Do I have time to get to the store?
Will I lose my job?
Will I get into a car accident? Will someone I love get into a car accident?
I can’t speak up in that meeting. What if I say something stupid?
What if I get sick? What if I am sick?

I can’t say whether any of these things will happen or not or 100 more you probably imagine. What Malcolm is telling us is that if they do, God will give you the grace for them.

And if you don’t have the grace today for any of those things, then they won’t happen. Now, however, for some people I’ve just introduced a new anxiety.

What if I don’t have the grace?

What you’re really asking is, what if God lets me down. What if all this grace talk is shifting sand and I can’t rely on it any more than I can rely on anything else in this world.

That’s a whole other question of faith. Do you trust God? Do you trust His word? If so, then you are saying you trust His promise that the grace will be there when you need it. He will be there.

And so when those anxious thoughts come, whatever they are, you can respond to them that if that thing happens today then God will give you the grace you need to face it. And if you don’t have the grace then it’s not going to happen today.

In all of life we experience His strength and His joy. And in the day of persecution that shows up in vivid color. The New Testament never speaks of us trying to get joy. It speaks of the joy of Jesus being experienced in us.

His grace and His favor is shown up to us as we go through life.

Grace in Risk

The other side of this particular discussion of grace, the grace that comes when we step out in faith. If God has called you to do something, He is going to give you the grace for it.

Before hearing this sermon I’d been feeling for sometime that God wanted me to step out and start a few things. I was always intimidated though and reasoned my way out of them.

I’m not extroverted enough.
I don’t have the money for that.
I don’t know what to do. Or how to do it. And I don’t know anyone who does.

I felt stuck and helpless and yet still called and I didn’t know what to do about it. Then Malcolm started talking about grace. And this story about God giving us the specific grace for what we need in the specific moment shuddered through me in the most delightful way.

I immediately thought of this website and this idea that my sister and I had a few years ago and thought, “This is what God is calling me to today.” To reimagine the purpose of this space and share what we’ve been learning–about life and about faith and who knows what else.

It isn’t my job to decide that this will be a blessing to you. Or to find a way to make sure it helps you in some fashion or another. What God has called me to is to speak and leave the results of that to Him.

I can’t do this. True, I don’t know how. And I’m really not very good at social media. But none of that matters. If God is calling me to it, then His strength and His joy will show up. It will have the reach He wants it to have. It will have the positive impact in people’s lives that He has for them, not what I decide it should have. I am not the one who has to make things happen in all this; I am just the vessel.

His grace is here for me today. And His grace is here for you too.

The grace that multitudes of you listening need is the grace to live this incredible life.

And when the day of persecution comes you will receive the grace, the strength of God, to go through and rejoice and be glad. And when the day of death comes you will have the grace to die.

That’s the third thing about this particular angle on grace. God’s grace is always there for you. Every day. It is not something that comes and goes or happens for you in a moment of crisis and the rest of the time you’re on your own.

God has given you His grace, right now, in this moment, today.

It isn’t a matter of if, it’s a question of what. What is that grace for today? What is God calling you to in this moment?

If it isn’t the grace to handle a difficult moment then don’t dwell on that scenario. Because while the enemy has you busy looking at what God is not doing in your life today, you’re missing out on seeing what God is doing.

Maybe it’s simply the grace to get up out of bed today and go to work and provide for your family, to laugh a little and spend time with those you love. As Malcolm said, the grace to live this life.

And perhaps today is a day that God is calling you to take a risk; to make a phone call, go somewhere unexpected; step out into something new. Even if you’re scared, even if you don’t know how, God’s grace will be there too and He’ll work it out.

Step into the flow of God’s grace for you today and follow where He leads.

We know His grace is for us and therefore as we move into life and all its possibilities that the grace of God, this sense of presence, this empowerment will be there. And we don’t judge what will happen when it happens by now, because now, right now, this minute as I’m talking to you I don’t have the grace to face persecution. I have the grace to talk to you and I’m using it.

And when other circumstances arise you’ll have the grace to handle it. This is the covenant favor of God. This is the blessing He’s sworn by Himself. You can expect it; anticipate it.

And you start practicing that as you go through life.

The Joy of Jesus in Us | Unconditional Love podcast by Malcolm Smith| Sept 25, 2018
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