Just before the whole world went inside and closed their doors (like, *juuuust* before), Stacey and I took our boys on a family vacation. Yeah, you might say it was a little reckless of us to travel multiple time zones away on several flights with a pair of 18 month-old boys in the onset of a global pandemic, and you may be right. May the Lord bless you. Jesus loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life. As for us, we had an incredible time as a family playing, swimming, laughing, relaxing and recharging in paradise. It was well worth the extra precautions we took. And no, we didn’t catch The ‘Rona.
In the weeks leading up to our trip though, I was honestly a little fried, a little tired, and a little unsettled in my spirit. Call it what you want, but something unhealthy was buried deep down in my soul. I found myself a little too quick to anger and frustration and it was spilling out from me in almost every area of my life. To be really vulnerable, my marriage with Stacey had a tension in it that I couldn’t explain. The joys of raising our miracle sons was overwhelming. Even time with friends and family felt strained and unfulfilling.
As we left for our vacation, I went to The Lord with it over and over again, asking Him to search me and reveal to me what was going on. And you know what? He did, as He always does. He revealed to me everything you might expect – my vain attempts to earn my way into His favor, my stubbornness as a husband and father, my broken humanity searching for value in lesser things. Just your standard, run-of-the-mill stuff we’ve all walked through.
A week after our trip, I was walking in our neighborhood with a trusted friend (at a CDC-recommended distance, of course) and I just poured out my soul to him. As I was rambling about all the negative things I was feeling, he listened and gave me space to vent. And after I got it all out, he looked at me with all the care in the world and simply asked “When was the last time you had a fresh encounter with God’s grace?” And as he said it, I felt my physical body relax for the first time in weeks. Like the tension in a rubber band stretched to its max suddenly ease. I felt the strain in my shoulders and my neck just simply vanish. And that’s only what happened on the outside. Inside, it felt like my soul just drew a deep breath of peace. He was right. I needed a fresh encounter with God’s grace. We prayed right on the sidewalk and I felt The Lord give me a fresh filling of His grace.
In the weeks since that moment, I have been experiencing God’s grace all over again. He is revealing areas of my life where I have lived with false mindsets or unhealthy patterns. Our marriage is healing. Time with our boys is bringing me so much joy. Internally, I feel at rest like I haven’t felt in some time. A new grace had washed over me, and I needed it so badly. All it took was a trusted friend to say it to me.
We may never meet in person, but wherever you are today, whatever you are experiencing even as this COVID Quarantine winds down, take it from a trusted friend - You need a fresh encounter with God’s grace. Pray this prayer right now – “Lord, give me a fresh encounter with your grace. Reveal to me areas of my life I haven’t fully surrendered to you. Make me new. Amen.”