Sometimes, things just don’t work out like you want them to.
Take this for example. Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I put on a pair of jeans that I had worn the day before. I’m all about recycling jeans, so this is nothing out of the ordinary.
But then, I looked down. Not only was I putting on Tuesday’s jeans, but I was also putting on a small part of Tuesday’s lunch: chicken tenders and barbecue sauce. Well, those jeans were done.
Petty, I know. Small, I know. Insignificant, I know.
In all seriousness, things just don’t always go the way we want them to. No matter how hard we pray, no matter how hard we work to prepare, no matter what we do, some things just don’t go how we expect.
Over the past few days, I’ve really had a sensitivity towards the idea of God’s grace. When I sit down to journal, the only thing that comes out is God’s grace. It’s dominated my thinking.
When we hit times where things just don’t work the way we want them to, even after praying about it, we tend to turn and say things to the effect of, “Why did you withhold grace from me in this instance, God?”
Now, the grace of God is a mysterious and cryptic gift. Its indelible nature benefits us in the fact that it can never be removed from us, and its inexhaustible amount gives us hope for yet another day.
So, what if God not giving us what we’ve asked for in a given moment is actually a different kind of grace? What if what we see as grace withheld is actually grace that is ripening and growing sweeter and more succulent with time?
Future grace. It’s the idea that sometimes grace is restrained, so that at the right time it may come and be all the more beautiful and fruitful.
I once read a story about a pastor who was traveling with his family to South Carolina from Minnesota. Their car was in less-than-desirable shape, and they feared that it would die on the way.
The family got stuck in traffic. Like, really bad, I-64-parking-lot-style traffic. They prayed, “God, please let our car make it to South Carolina without dying in this traffic.” A simple petition for grace.
Right after the jam clears, the car dies, and the pastor knows exactly what the problem is. So the pastor begins to walk down the side of the highway, and a man with a service truck pulls over to help. The driver gives the pastor a ride to the nearest auto parts store, and on the way, the pastor tells the driver about Jesus and the driver prayed to receive Christ. Future grace at work.
This idea of future grace – God’s power, provision, mercy, and wisdom – everything we need – in order to do what He wants us to do five minutes, five weeks, five months, five years, and five thousand years from now – is not that grace is being completely withheld or withdrawn from us, but that God is nurturing and maturing the grace that will be given so that we can be more thankful and give Him more praise.
Had God granted the pastor the grace to make it to South Carolina without car problems, the pastor would’ve never been able to be an instrument in God’s hands to help a service truck driver see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
Sometimes, things just don’t work out like you want them to. Sometimes, God is waiting with eager anticipation to use you to bring more glory to His name through an instance that couldn’t happen if He had given you the grace that you had been praying for in the first place.
Brothers and sisters, don’t lose heart if you’re in a season where grace hasn’t come. Eagerly await the grace that God has been maturing and growing so that in the right time, He may use you.
You may not be able to see the forest for the trees. You may not be able to see past your moment of dire struggle, where it seems like any bad thing that could happen IS happening. You may not think that this night will ever break.
The old adage goes, “This too shall pass.” How shall it pass? Through God granting the future grace that He has been holding back in order to use you more and praise Him more.
Had God granted my family the grace to allow my dad to live instead of having a fatal heart attack, the grace of opening my eyes to see His light, calling me to ministry, and teaching me how to praise Him better may never have come.
Sometimes, things just don’t work out like you want them to. And sometimes, I’m okay with that.
How has God’s grace come out in your life?