Only Grace

Every year, the chaplain at the Black Forest Academy picks a Bible verse for the staff and students to consider for the year. This past year our passage was Ephesians 2:8-9, which states that: “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Thus, our motto this year was “Only Grace.”

This has been quite the year to consider the meaning of grace. Being human, I often find myself thinking about what I “deserve.” I have a distorted perspective of what I think God and others owe me. Yet, on the other hand, I always have a hard time receiving. I expect God to provide for my needs but I am always surprised when He does. I run through a checklist in my mind, thinking things like: “I didn’t pray enough to earn this,” “I haven’t read my Bible enough lately to deserve this,” and “I’m not good enough to receive such a gift.”  I am so glad that being a child of God is not about getting what I “deserve!”          However, I am still learning how to accept what I do not deserve.

An Example of Grace:                                                                                                     In February of this year, my sending agency (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) informed me that my support money was dangerously low. I started my year at the Black Forest Academy with $8,000 in the bank, but I never gained enough monthly supporters to maintain a minimum paycheck. So, I drew from that initial $8,000 monthly until it was gone. In February, TEAM encouraged me to reach out to more possible supporters and to pray that God would provide what I needed to stay in Germany. Yet, I was in the busiest teaching time of the year and could not summon the extra energy I needed to find the support I required. I prayed, but I was slightly depressed and feeling defeated. So, it came as no surprise to find out that my account was completely empty in March. I was devastated. I felt like I was letting the other staff at BFA down, since my colleagues would have had to take over my responsibilities. I felt like I was letting the students down, because they would have had to finish out the school year with substitutes who were not as dedicated to those specific classes as I was. I knew that my small group would suffer and my new friends would be bummed. I felt crushed by the weight of the situation.

With the approach of March, I knew that TEAM was going to take action in moving me off of the mission field. I avoided my email, because I knew the email I was dreading would be arriving any day. I could not hide from the situation though, so I finally checked my email in early March. Sure enough, I received an email from my TEAM representative stating that my account was empty and that they were going to have to pull me off of the field if I did not raise at least $1,500 in a week.

That day, I got down on my knees  and I cried out to the Lord. I was humbled before Him.  I knew that He could provide everything that I needed, but I knew that I did not deserve it. So, I sent out my last cry for help on Facebook, but I did not expect to receive much of a response. I put on a brave face, stating that I knew God would provide, but I was still filled with doubt. Given my attitude, it should not surprise you that I was overwhelmed by the response that I received. Friends and family donated over $3,000 to my account in less than a week. On top of that, I received another $1,300 in donations that enabled me to purchase my plane ticket home for the summer. God provided for my needs and gave me more than I ever could have hoped for.

I do not know why, but I am still continually surprised by God’s Grace. I do not think that it is something I will ever get used to. I serve a God who gives unconditionally out of love. Praise Him for His faithfulness! It is ONLY by GRACE that we are saved.