Puddles of Grace
by Sharon Betters
Just ask the previous generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know nothing. Our days on earth are as fleeting as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you the wisdom of old.
Job 8:8-10 NLT
Mention Job and even those unfamiliar with the Bible, immediately know that you’re talking about someone who lost everything. One of Job’s friends, Bildad, the Shuhite, tried to comfort him by exhorting him to ask those who had come before him for wisdom. Though Bildad’s theology is skewed, there is great advice in this passage. Those who are ahead of us in life’s journey can teach us much about how to build structures into our lives that can become an automatic default system when life makes it hard to think straight. Some of those puddles of grace encourage us to avoid making the same mistakes our predecessors made.
We’ve established that acknowledging we are on a pilgrimage, on our way Home, fuels our journey with hope when life stinks. It follows, that if I know I am traveling through a foreign land, and the journey will be long and difficult, I would be wise to talk to people ahead of me in that journey. What helped them and what is helping them to not just endure, but to find joy and peace in the dark places? What supplies did they pack, and what do they wish they had packed? What mistakes did they make?
This is not as hard as it might first appear. Every time you attend a Bible study, listen to a sermon, or listen as other people share from their life experience, you have the opportunity to learn from those ahead of you in life. When we are intentional about putting into place the disciplines of walking by faith, we discover we are better prepared for the hard places in our journey than we realized. That’s when those puddles of grace, left by those who came before us, help equip, energize and encourage us to keep on keeping on.
Be intentional about establishing disciplines of grace in your life when the “sun is shining.”
Decide if God’s Word truly is the grid through which you will push all of life. Include personal and group Bible study that teaches, reproves, corrects and trains you in the righteousness of God as part of forming that life grid.
Identify godly people ahead of you in life’s journey that can help equip you for the pathway God has marked out for you. These people might no longer live on this earth, but their writings still exist and are rich with life lessons. As a young woman, I turned to Elisabeth Elliot and Amy Carmichael as long distance spiritual mothers, soaking up their life stories and how God’s grace equipped and enabled them to endure, when quitting might have seemed easier. These women have left “puddles of grace” for generations to come. Drink deeply from their lives and hope will fuel your pilgrimage Home.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview "One Wrong Decision Can Change Everything - An Interview with Matt Maher" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
From pro soccer player to ex-convict Matt Maher’s story is a call to young people to think carefully before making impulsive decisions. Matt was born and raised in a strong Christian family, and for most of his life he was a good reflection of that upbringing. He was extremely successful in academia and sports, attended Temple University on a scholarship and was contracted to play professional soccer. Then one night, he made one choice that changed everything. On March 7, 2009 he made the decision to drink and drive–causing a fatal accident. Charged with aggravated manslaughter and sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison, Matt faced choices he never imagined possible. After serving his time, he started sharing his story around the country. He is now an author, speaker, and instigator for the social influence platform #iCONVICTION. He currently authors a monthly column in the Cape May County Herald and his daily blogs have been read by over 500,000 people. In addition to the God-given influence through his speaking and writing and with the help of his wife Sarah, Matt is the Director of Student Ministries at Coastal Christian Church in Ocean City, NJ. You can learn more about Matt at www.themattmaherstory.com.