Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grace Containers

            “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” those were the words that I read this morning as I was continuing my stroll through 2 Timothy. I was feeling a little down this morning, my coffee maker decided to go on the fritz at 7:00a.m. and I need not tell you the “fleshly trial” that I encountered this morning as I realized I didn’t have any instant coffee either! Now I do not believe the Lord was encouraging me to “be strong” because I didn’t have any coffee, although, He does know my need for a cup in the morning! But still, I think it was my cry for His help this morning, my cry to Him to show me who I was in Him, I needed Him this morning, a great and deep need was in my heart as I cried out in prayer to Him. I am a sinner who is in need of a Savior. And I needed Him this morning, because I knew I was spiraling down, and losing the battle.  
                When I read 2 Timothy 2:1, the word “in” stuck in my head. I read, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” and that is as far as I got. Be strong, He tells me this morning, be strong. Sure, that is easy for You to say, Lord. Strong is not something I would write on a sticky note and label me with, I cave more often than I stand strong. But Paul is trying to encourage Timothy here, just as the Lord is trying to encourage us. To “be strong” means to be “increased in strength”, it refers to a growing, a process that keeps getting stronger and stronger. But how Lord does one “become strong”?  His answer to my question was, “in”- just “in”, nothing more, nothing less.  
                As I was pondering on His answer, He gave me a picture of one of my food storage containers. He showed me how we put food or perishable items into those containers to protect them from the elements. But what He showed me that was truly wonderful was to protect the perishable item; it must go “IN” to the container.            
To “be strong in” means then that I am covered, I am enveloped, and wrapped up in Him. I am resting “IN” the container of His grace. Just as I would cover the perishable item with a lid so that the elements do not get to it and spoil it, He covers us with His grace so that our strength does not become spoiled. The strength that we need every day is found “in” His grace. We are fixed upon Him and we can rest in our grace containers, because He has us covered, protected, and nothing can get to us unless He takes the lid off.
                One commentary I read stated that, “…being strong means to rest; learning how to trust in the work of Jesus Christ. That is the way to be strong in the Lord. But Timothy (like me today) needed the exhortation to do it; to put it into practice.” To be strong “in” the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ means that we allow Him to cover us, to put us into the container He has chosen for us. We trust Him and His ability to protect us, lead us, guide us and use us as He sees fit. Just like the containers in my fridge right now, full of last night’s dinner, are being protected from harm because they are sealed, we too are sealed in Christ. Through His grace we are protected from spoiling. My Alfredo sauce from last night is not asking me to let it out- neither should we try to free ourselves from the grip of His grace.
                To be strong IN the grace that is in Christ Jesus simply means that we are to put ourselves into His hands, and let Him seal us up so that we are protected. We may not understand the container we are in, we may not be able to see out of it- but we should trust that He has us right where He wants us and He will make sure we do not spoil. Another commentary I read stated that, “When I try; I fail. When I trust; He succeeds.” How true that is. If we try to protect ourselves, we end up not getting the lid on tight enough and we will spoil. But when we place our lives IN His grace, we will be strong, because we will be completely dependent upon Him.
                If we can learn anything from the word “IN” today, let us take to heart that we are to do something with it. We have to place ourselves “IN” Him, we have to be willing to let go of whatever it is that is holding us back, and let Him put us IN His container of grace. His favor, His delight, His desire for you is to “be strong IN” His grace, not outside of it, but “IN” it.
                “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1) Amen.