I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “giving space for grace,” which was a tidbit I overheard heard someone say last fall. It really resonated with me. Too often we jump in to (supposedly!) help something along when it would be better to allow some room for God to dazzle us.
I’ve utilized this idea in lots of ways, and will continue to, but I wanted to share today one example of how I recently have deeply felt the fruits of this approach. I am lecture chairmen at our church, and yesterday we gave two successful New Year’s themed lectures, one at the prison, and another in the evening at our church, with a fabulous piano showcase before hand accompanied by a slide show of quotes pertinent to the topic of the lecture. We also videoed the lecture; I hope to post it soon on my blog, including many of the wonderful quotes.
In the meantime, however, I really want to express gratitude for my clarity about letting God do the whole thing. It wasn’t originally our intention to have a live lecture in January when it could easily have been cancelled due to weather. But following along as we were led step by step, we had it now, and mercifully, the weather was not an issue. Giving the prison lecture in addition was an after thought, but the inmates loved it and clamored for more. Also, planning both lectures on short notice (within a month) with the holidays so jammed packed in between was a bit counter intuitive, but it all went smoothly, like a hot knife through butter.
People did come out on a cold January evening right after the holidays– it was standing room only– even though we were not sure they would. We usually hold these lectures in a more public venue out in the community, but having it in the church with our amazing pianist was intimate and beautiful. It showed us how essential it is to change things up, and it is just as important to have vibrant activity within our church as it is to facilitate it out around the town. Many newcomers had been curious about our church and were glad to finally see it, contrary to the conventional thought of the comparative advantages of giving the lecture on more “neutral” territory. Even though we were treading on so many unknowns, it all worked out seamlessly, with not a single shred of angst on anyone’s behalf, and for the joyous benefit of everyone.
The only detail I had to really chase after was getting a videographer. They all were either booked or not returning my calls over the holiday. So last Sunday early before church I went on a walk and had a chat with God about it. “I thought it was a right idea to film this thing,” I said, “so why isn’t it working out”? God told me not to give up on the idea, but to ask around at church for a referral. When I got to church, I mentioned my problem to the first person I saw there, who was an usher, and it ended up that her son, a professional videographer (I had forgotten that!) very graciously came from a considerable distance to record the event for us. And doing this seems to have blessed him as much as it did us.
Giving space for grace is not only effective on church projects, but in work-a-day ones too. I find it is a great asset as an approach to parenting, especially teens and young adults, where one must be very careful not to take on any false sense of responsibility. And I’ve included these monoprints of mine (available here and here) on this post because winging it in the face of the unknowns is what that process is all about, and probably why I find it so stimulating.
The Bible tells us that, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What we need to remind ourselves is that even though details and outcomes are unseen to us, they are still full of the substance of good because God is there. No fretting nor micromanagement is necessary, just an obedient response to what God is asking of us, trusting God instead of ourselves.
As a friend (and blog reader) of mine likes to say, “God is large and in charge.” I’m grateful that God is in charge and not me. I’m also grateful to be learning better to hold things very loosely, keep opinions to a minimum, and give space for grace.
Congratulations to you, Polly, and to your committee and church, on this wonderfully harmonious, inspiring, and definitely God-led experience hosting lecture(s). Sounds like such a gift and blessing to everyone who participated and/or attended. I’m on the lecture committee at my church as well (just shared this post with them) and I’m very inspired as we are currently in the planning/decision-making stages. Lots of good to look forward to! Thanks for sharing such a strong example of how this incredibly vital work can be done (and especially with such humility and grace). – Rachel
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