Written by: Dcs. Heidi Goehmann Reading Time: Less than 4 minutes Grace is a living and active part of many of our lives. God offers it to each of us and the community of God is His very self. It is so much a part of who He is, that we can not know God and not know Grace. However, applying grace in our lives can be the bigger challenge. I am constantly praying for Grace. It isn’t a justification issue. I know that grace is fully and freely mine in Christ Jesus. I confess and am fully and freely forgiven. I praise and thank Him for the gift of salvation in my life and how that freedom eeks out into every little piece of life lived on this earth. Rather, it’s a sanctification issue. I pray for God to help me let that Grace flow out to those around me. That the grace of Christ would wrap itself around my children and my friends and my home and my community. We live in a world in need of so much grace. As a fully redeemed Mama, I want that grace to be in every piece of my parenting, even when it looks like discipline. I want my husband to be engulfed in grace when he walks in the door of our home, instead of me greeting him with “Can you do this? Can you take this? This needs to be done…”. I’m hard on myself about grace, which is ironic in the way that the sanctified life so often is. I’m hard on others when they fail to give me grace. I’m frustrated that grace ends up being something I try to get instead of the free gift given, that it really is. But I’m never more hard on anyone about grace than my younger self. For years I was actually terrified of my younger self. I wanted so much to remove those years from my memory and never go back. My childhood was great, but if I could only do away with years 13 to about 20, I’d be good to go! 7 years, who would miss them? When God talks about blotting out our sin (Isaiah 43:25), I always assumed He felt the same way. Just blot it out, forget it, done. At this point you are beginning to wonder what in the world this has to do with Ecclesiastes 3:6. Let’s hit refresh on our passage again: A time to seek, and a time to lose; A time to keep and a time to cast away There are things we need to keep. There are times we need to keep, that we would rather toss away. Seasons that held sorrow. Seasons that held rebellion. Seasons that held something we’d rather wrap up tight in layers upon layers of blankets, encompass with duct tape, and hid in a dark corner of the attic….in someone else’s house….that may or may not burn down. A time to keep… A time to keep a friend that holds a bit more drama than we generally care to have in our life, a time to keep a church that we’d rather walk out of so we can go to the church three doors down, a time to keep a marriage that feels like a desert wasteland. Friend, those are all hard things to keep. But sometimes that is what we are called to do. Not always, but sometimes. For me, I was driving the other day and heard this song on the radio. The lyrics below combined with my study of Ecclesiastes 3, spoke a hard truth to my heart: “Hit rewind, click delete. Stand face to face with the younger me. All of my mistakes, all of my heartbreak, Here’s what I’d do differently: I’d love like I’m not scared. Give when it’s not fair. Live life for another. Take time for a brother. Fight for the weak ones. Speak out for freedom. Find Faith in the battle. Stand tall but above it all…Fix my eyes on You.” I always heard this song as guilt. I so badly wanted to throw away, to cast away, that younger version of myself. For the first time I heard it as Gospel. Would I do it differently? Yes, maybe, I don’t know. I think I always thought grace would be God giving me a redo. Letting my wise self exist earlier, letting all of it go away, letting a more perfect, more holy version of my youth be the reality. This I have learned… God values me. God would keep me, sinful and imperfect, turning to Him. He sees the broken as beautiful. I am a piece of precious clay ready for molding, being molded over time, in relationship with Him. He is ever forming my purpose and giving me Life as His masterpiece. With the younger version of myself, I can not understand grace. Am I a sinner now, yes! But without the growth process, without God working from the inside out, I would only find grace as a nice idea. With it, I know Grace, as the air I breathe, from a Savior who has worked in me from conception and isn’t about to give up on me now. Praises. Praises! Keep Him close, just as He keeps every little bit of us, close to His heart.