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WITH GRACE | Colleen Stock

WITH GRACE – Colleen Stock – January 2023 Edition

We are on the threshold of 2023, and you’re probably thinking of what more could happen and how much harder it might get. What is going to be thrust at us this coming year? I’ve barely dragged myself through the surrealism of the last few years leading up to the conclusion of 2022: a pandemic, rumours of wars, wars, extreme weather phenomena, earthquakes, economic crisis, and sky-high fuel costs, to name but a few. And if you’re South African, corruption and the dawn of no lights, where it feels like the 19th century and we wrestle with ways to overcome an off-grid lifestyle.

The Bible is full of threshold moments. Threshold comes from the old word “threshing”, where grain is separated from the husk. It’s the dividing line between being in this world or another. Examples are dawn to dusk or breaking the sound barrier. Thresholds include new seasons, a transitional place, time starters, time accelerators, destiny markers, gateways, doorways, the beginning or ending of a year, a change on the timeline of our life, and the start of a new job or project. Thresholds are not easy. They are places of separation and loneliness, where you’re tested to your wits’ end, and question yourself and life. Confronted with new decisions, you can become very overwhelmed with emotions. It’s the place of overcoming after battling opposition, turmoil and strife. After these hardships you’re once again faced with different, challenging situations where the path is unseen and for which navigation is a struggle.

If, like me, you find yourself at this breaking point, low on energy, short-fused, and exhausted, with depleted resources, you’re not alone. We have just spent the last year playing catch-up and reregulating our bodies to a new normal. In this stressful season everyone is facing similar struggles. Do we allow all this chaos to consume us? In moments of frustration do we lash out on social media, and curse Eskom and the taxi cutting in front of us? Do we get impatient with the slow teller in a store, and irritated at a co-worker?

Scripture points us to kindness, compassion, grace and mercy encompassing the word “love”. Compassion is feeling sympathy or pity for others or putting yourself in their position. Grace is allowing others to be who they are, and mercy is to let people off the hook for a misdemeanor. The only commandments that Jesus highlighted were; to “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31). We cannot in good conscience say we love our neighbour as ourself without compassion, grace and mercy. You do not know what others are facing or the burden they are carrying. Instead of indulging in self-pity, we should rise above our anger. Choose a different path and attitude, and choose to show kindness despite our frustration and irritation.

I can’t promise that 2023 will be smooth and easy. What I can promise is that God will be there and will give you peace in troubled times and patience with others. He has gone before you and removed some of those large boulders and will guide your every step. He will be there to pick you up when you fail or fall and help you continue on your path.

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions we’ll never keep this year, let’s guard our hearts’ attitude and show gratitude for what we have.

Phillipians 4:5-9 says “5. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8.Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. 9. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

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