The first part of this week has given us some very hard afternoon thunderstorms. Strong winds, lightning, and flash-flood like rain hit Moody ... at least here at the church. It's made for some very wet conditions for Camp Cornerstone so far. And it's also highlighted to me the importance of functioning gutters!
Right outside the church office is a porch area covered by a roof area of approximately 1600 square feet. That's not enormous but certainly a large enough area to see a lot of water during a heavy downpour. There's one gutter for that part of the roof that catches the water and directs it toward one downspout on the east side of the porch. I noticed that during the Monday night storm that the downspout was obviously blocked because water was pouring over the edges of the gutter and flooding the porch area. That was a keen observation that you'd think would lead me to address the problem. Well, I did, but not until after the Tuesday night storm that brought the same result; the porch area was flooded and it took quite a while to squeegee off all that water just before Camp Cornerstone was to start.
I learned two great lessons here - one, clogged gutters cause problems; two, just recognizing the problem doesn't solve anything.
Gutters really are great when they function properly. They take the much needed rainfall and direct it outward, away from where you are. The unobstructed flow of water must be maintained because when it's not, problems occur.
This reminds me of the abundant grace that God has poured out on me ... much needed grace that I can't do without. But His grace is so lavish and profuse that it's designed to flow through me and continue on to others. If somehow the flow of that grace to others gets obstructed or backed up then it actually causes problems in my life - pride, self-sufficiency, laziness, boasting, lack of concern for others, and other such things. Grace is a stream whose flow mustn't be impeded in any way. God's grace isn't limited to us such that we need to selfishly keep it to ourselves; it is amazingly abundant, plentiful, rich, ample, and sufficient for us every single moment of every day. It must flow through us to others.
And merely recognizing that we struggle in this area isn't a sufficient remedy. We must take some action. While it does begin with recognition of the problem and an appropriate confession of it, true repentance and faith always produces the fruit of action. Isn't this what we're learning in our study of James on Sunday mornings?
So take a moment today and in repentance unclog the gutter in your heart that should direct the grace God has given you to others. Then take another moment and decide who that grace will flow to - your spouse, children, neighbor, co-worker, teammate, fellow church member, non-Christian friend, etc. And now send them a note or text of encouragement, do some act of kindness to someone who can't repay you, demonstrate love toward someone hard to love, show forgiveness to someone who has wronged you, listen to someone who longs to be heard, extend grace to someone who shows no grace.
What we've been given by God is meant to be shared! And, of course, the greatest display of grace is the cross of Jesus Christ. "God, pour out your grace on us so that we will share the grace of the cross with those who so desperately need it. May we, through word and deed, spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ."