By Annie Yorty
The special ed teacher looks around the conference table, pen poised to write. “What do we see as Aly’s strengths?”
Among the professionals, I, the lone parent, stand out like a prickly cactus among a sea of swaying grasses. A million strengths jump to mind.
After a smattering of abilities are recorded, she moves on. “Weaknesses?” I squirm.
As a mom of a child with special needs, assessments of strengths and weaknesses are routine.
But I dread the annual meetings that create a plan for my daughter’s life. The examination of deficits can be painful, discouraging, and overwhelming.
I’m always advised to play up the strengths and capitalize on them to create success.
But that worldly advice is upside-down and backwards from God’s perfect wisdom.
Look at how Paul viewed his weaknesses.
But He said to me, ”’My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me (2 Cor 12:9).”My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9a
Who does that? I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to run around flaunting my flaws.
Never have I bragged, “Guess what, I snapped at my husband today! And then I ignored my kids all afternoon.”
Have you ever honestly evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Have you asked God to swoop in and wipe away your struggles?
Paul did. But God refused to remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” because He had bigger plans.
Our weaknesses can become the showcase for God’s glory.
God points to how He works through our most profound failures and hurts, proudly exclaiming, “Look! That’s my girl!”
How is God’s Grace Displayed in Our Weakness?
“For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.” -Romans 6:14
Grace is the favor of God. Given to you. Unearned, free.
Thanks to God, we can reject the notion of living under an impossible set of rules. Instead, we can choose to live controlled by God’s grace.
God’s grace is not a “once and done” gift; it works in our lives even after salvation. We can experience God’s grace each and every day.
But Paul also issues a warning about God’s grace.
“Don’t receive God’s grace in vain (2 Cor 6:1).”
Grace is a gift that comes with a stewardship responsibility.
A good steward is a caretaker who manages another person’s property to increase it.
God’s grace flows into our weaknesses, then pours out, bathing those around us.
I find it helpful to imagine God’s grace as a car on the highway. Sometimes we run into roadblocks that stop the flow of grace in our lives. What are some hindrances to God’s grace?God’s grace flows into our weaknesses, then pours out, bathing those around us.
Three Roadblocks on the Highway of Grace
Highway of Grace Roadblock #1: Self-Focus
Let’s face it. We naturally put ourselves first. At those moments, my own point of view shrouds reality.
When we concentrate on our own needs, we cannot extend God’s grace to others.
Blind toward my needy family. Unseeing of my struggling neighbor. Forgetful of the lost and dying world.
Highway of Grace Roadblock # 2: Expectations
We all have them. Some expectations are blatant, while others are unconscious.
Often, I begin with God-honoring motives. Then, somewhere along the line, my sinful expectations creep in.
When my expectations aren’t met, I grow critical and judgmental, refusing to extend grace.
When grumbling begins, grace comes to a screeching halt in our hearts.When grumbling begins, grace comes to a screeching halt in our hearts.
Highway of Grace Roadblock #3: Bitterness
God draws a bright line between bitterness and missing out on the blessing of grace.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.”
An angry, hard heart presents an impenetrable wall to God’s grace. If we want to be able to experience God’s grace and share it with others, we must learn to extend forgiveness.
Grace may be obstructed by our poor choices. But how can we decide to be a steady, continuous express lane of God’s grace?
How to Enter the Express Lane on the Highway of Grace
Step 1: Study the Bible.
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (2 Pt 1:2).”
Did you catch that? Our experience of God’s grace increases as our knowledge of Him increases.
The Bible is the best place to go when we desire to understand God’s grace better. When we study it under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, we get to know the Giver and the gift.
Step 2: Pray for Opportunities.
Prayer isn’t simply a few words we mumble at mealtimes. It’s something we must do consistently!
God knows exactly who in my life needs His grace. When I pray, all-knowing God points them out.
Take a moment every morning to ask God to show you who needs grace today, and face the day with eyes expecting to find a need for God’s grace to flow through you.God knows exactly who in my life needs His grace. When I pray, all-knowing God points them out.
Step 3: Empty Your Hands.
Jesus Christ is our best example of a grace-filled life.
He surrendered every shred of power to offer a gift of grace to completely depraved people. He did this for you and for me.
Why am I so prone to seizing control from God’s gracious Spirit within me?
We need to ask God what we may be holding onto every day. Write down His heart whispers and pray about letting go.
Then your hands will have room to hold out His grace to others.
Step 4: Pray Against Satan’s Attack.
Yes, God has an enemy—Satan is real.
God loves His people, so His enemy targets us.
Grace is the essence of God, and that’s why Satan hates it.
But God has won the battle against Satan. We are not helpless against his attacks.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”
When Satan attacks, take time to pray and trust God to protect you. Commit to extending grace when God brings the opportunity.
No matter what.Grace is the essence of God, and that’s why Satan hates it.
Step 5: Forbear and Forgive.
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive (Col 3:12-13).”
I sometimes forget God’s grace is for everyone, even when they behave badly.
Especially when they behave badly.
God does not need my help to point out the sins of others, yet, somehow I believe my condemnation will fix sin.
But only for them. Not me. My double standard glares like a bare lightbulb.
Gossip, judgment, and grudges do not increase the grace of God.
We have been forgiven and saved only by the grace of God. Dare we not graciously forgive others?
Friends, the disease of sin is contagious and has spread to every person we know, and grace is the only cure.Friends, the disease of sin is contagious and has spread to every person we know, and grace is the only cure.
As Christians, we must do everything in our power to avoid roadblocks and enter the express lane on God’s highway of grace.
“Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory (2 Cor 4:15).”
Let’s allow our weaknesses to become a glorious extension of God’s grace.
Annie Yorty is a writer, speaker, and lifelong learner. Annie writes a blog, Perceive God, where her mission is to teach and encourage others to discover their true needs and find sources of support and hope. She applies this calling to many interests including disability advocacy, global missions, homeschooling, Bible teaching, and mentoring. Life in Pennsylvania is both fun and challenging with her high school sweetheart, two grown children (one with disabilities), a teen, and a furry beast (a.k.a. labradoodle).