Overwhelming Victory Comes with Overwhelming Grace!
By Jan McGrier
Are any of you exercise enthusiasts? Is your thing Yoga, Zumba, swimming, or perhaps walking? God bless you! I want to be like you one day. But for now, exercise is one of the few things that I passionately dislike but desperately need. God has clearly shown me that when I incorporate any type of exercise into my weekly schedule, I experience overwhelming victory in my battle against inflammatory ailments and other chronic pain symptoms that have plagued my body for years. Praise God that He goes before me and you in ALL things (Deuteronomy 1:30; Isaiah 52:12).
God certainly has gone before me in recent weeks with this ongoing exercise battle. He helped me resist the devil, who usually makes my excuses look pretty attractive. I clicked that “Confirm Now” button on the Pilates Studio App and finally, one small step of victory. I did what I did not want to do. This did not happen in my own strength because I would have won this battle long ago. God stuck with me through unconditional love in spite of my many promises and failed attempts to take care of the body He died for (1 Cor 6:19). My constant struggle is more than about exercise, and I suspect some of your battles are about more than the thing you’re waging war with too. The battles most often really come down to our way or God’s way (Ephesians 6:12). We want to be the boss of ourselves, not Jesus, and choosing His Lordship.
Dear ones, do not be perplexed about this type of constant inner struggle we all have. Paul explains in Romans 7:15 that what we want to do we really don’t do, instead, we do the very thing we hate because our sinful nature is still hanging on us. Doesn’t sound like very good news but there is. In overwhelming victory, there is always a battle and God. No matter the type of battle you’re facing, we are more than conquerors through Christ Who loved us (Romans 8:37). The victory as I experienced was all about God’s grace putting me in a position to do nothing other than to repent, receive His forgiveness, obey and wait expectantly on His timing to help me move forward. Movement happened and I heard this closing instruction in class, “Now take one final deep breath, give yourself a hug and give yourself some grace today”. Uhm, there was grace being displayed before me again. I wondered was this instructor a Christian? Am I supposed to give myself grace; and if so, how?
Well, I don’t know if the Pilates instructor was a Christ-follower or not. I don’t know if giving myself grace is even a theologically correct instruction to follow given that grace is a gift and “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,” (James 1:17). But what I do know is that those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). We understand the things of God that God wants us to understand. So, I surrender what I don’t know, can’t see, or can’t make sense of and put my faith in what I do know--- that Jesus is the Son of God and it is by grace that I have been saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So, that Pilates class was really just a “God setup”, preparing my eyes to see and experience how grace is freely given to me throughout the day and all I have to do is to receive. The enemy tried to back me into a pity party corner. It started off with a disappointment over a Birthday Celebration (not mine) that did not materialize. That morphed into a feeling of loss and discontent which triggered thoughts of other losses - a missed appointment that needed to be rescheduled; cancelled trips due to the Pandemic; longing for fellowship with my BFF's and sisters in Christ who no longer live in the same city. All these things then morphed into re-visiting the painful and unexpected death of my 92-year young mom a few months ago. Again, I did not go looking for this trouble, but this pity party of trouble found me.
You know what also found me that day? It was God’s Grace! Without me striving to correct my thinking or me doing some busy work to get my mind off my feelings. God just met me and put my eyes on Him. By faith, I know that God loves me and He is the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:4). I don’t know how, I don’t have any visible proof but by faith, I am confident my God was directing all this activity between me and my iPhone. I looked at my phone to confirm the time for the alternative Birthday celebration. Unscripted and unplanned praise came off my tongue for God making this provision. Then l double checked my calendar for that missed appointment. Turns out, I had not actually missed the appointment. I had incorrectly placed it on the following month in error so no rescheduling was needed. WOW, another grace gift and another opportunity for a thank you, Jesus. Then I swiped my phone to some recent text messages from those BFF's I was missing. There I saw tons of encouragement, God’s Word shared generously, and lots of smiley face Emojis affirming His goodness.
I’ll shout Paul’s exhortation from the rooftops again for you, “No despite these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ” (Romans 8:37). So, how confident are you that God has not forsaken you in your battles? Take a minute to think about it. How many times has God in his grace helped you do the very thing you did not want to do? Women of God, remember your victories are in His time, by his way and by His grace. Expect it! Receive it! Be grateful for it! Share it!
Lord Jesus, there is none like you. It is only You O God that is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6). We thank You that every action You take toward us involves Your grace, the gift of salvation, the future You have prepared for us and the victory that has already been won. We pray that we will continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18). Amen and Amen