Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of L.L. Barkat's new book, Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, (InterVarsity Press, 2008).
You may cut your feet and feel pain whenever you walk through life’s hard, broken places. But God’s grace is rock solid, and when you hold onto it, you can walk through anything and emerge stronger from the journey.
Here's how you can find the rock of God's grace in the midst of the hard, broken places in your life:
Grace for conversion: God will give you all the grace you need for every part of your spiritual journey. His grace can redeem your past, challenge your present, and shape your vision for the future.
Grace for shame: You can come to God just as you are, no matter what you’ve done. There’s no need to wait until you try to make things right in your life or feel better about yourself. Approach God now, and He will make things right in your life and shower you with love.
Grace for messiness: Life in this fallen world is bound to be messy for everyone. Accept the circumstances you can’t change, and look beyond them to God. Place your hope in God and move forward trusting Him to transform your messes into beauty. Invite God to use the messes in your life to accomplish good purposes for you.
Grace for suffering: Whether your suffering is the result of your own bad choices or because of bad circumstances, God will redeem if you ask Him to do so. Let your suffering lead you closer to God. He knows what you’re going through, and He cares. God is willing to meet you in the midst of your suffering; and when He comes, He’ll bring grace with Him.
Grace for resistance: God’s grace will empower you to resist evil, however you encounter it. Remind yourself daily that Satan is real. Be aware of evil’s influence in your life, and be sure to put on the spiritual armor the Bible describes to fight it through prayer. You can be confident that, armed with God’s grace, you can win any battle with evil.
Grace for baptism: Just as water saturates you during baptism, God’s grace will flood your life, soaking every part of it. Don’t let your struggles and setbacks discourage you. Grace will reach into all of your experiences and flood them with hope.
Grace for doubt: God can handle your doubts. Go ahead and express them honestly to Him. Wrestle with God in prayer about your deepest doubts. Ask Him questions. Pour out your thoughts and feelings. In the process, He will meet you with His grace. Facing your doubts can ultimately lead to a stronger faith.
Grace for inclusion: Let your gratitude for God’s grace in your own life motivate you to reach out to other people who need God’s grace. Remember that God wants everyone to be included in the faith. Ask God to give you an open heart that shares His grace with others.
Grace for fear: God won’t always choose to protect you from the hardships you fear; sometimes He will allow you experience them. But you can count on the fact that God will be right beside you, loving and helping you, no matter what you go through. Pray for God’s grace to draw you onward and give you the courage you need.
Grace for love: God, in His grace, will take the broken pieces of your soul and lovingly give them back to you in the right way. He will love you deeply and unconditionally, and His love will compel Him to transform you when you come to Him.
Grace for sacrifice: Investing yourself fully in the ministry opportunities God gives you – in both extraordinary and ordinary situations – will help you build a wall of grace that will draw others to God. Be willing to serve whenever God calls you to do so. Don’t overlook the power of small acts of sacrifice that add up to awesome amounts of grace.
Grace for responsibility: God’s grace is a blessing that comes along with the responsibility to change the world for the better. Use your circle of influence among the people you relate to by pointing the way to God and modeling a faithful life. Others are watching to see how well you’ll represent Christ. Rely on God’s grace to represent Him well.
Grace for gratitude: There’s no greater gift to be thankful for than Jesus’ gift of dying on the cross to pay for your sins and save you. Your gratitude is steeped in grace that can propel you forward into a better future when you remember Jesus’ sacrifice and respond to it.
Grace for humility: God will give you the grace to be great when you humble yourself before Him. When you stop focusing on gaining attention for yourself and concentrate on bringing God glory, His grace will empower you to accomplish much more than you ever could on your own.
Grace for healing: You’re never too damaged for God to use to accomplish wonderful things. Offer God all of the wounds you’ve suffered, and trust Him to bring you the healing you need. Stay close to God through the healing process and watch Him transform you in unexpected ways, by His grace.
Grace for forgiveness: It’s only through the power of God’s grace that you can truly forgive people who’ve hurt you. But God’s grace is strong enough to help you forgive absolutely anything. So rely on that grace, and answer God’s call to forgive others – just as God has forgiven you.
Grace for witness: When you share your faith with others, God will honor your effort and pour out His grace to use your witness powerfully in the lives of those you hope to reach with the Gospel. Even if you don’t see any conversions, God’s grace will be at work in those people’s lives. You may see them come to God when you least expect it – thanks to God’s grace. So don’t hesitate to share your faith, and trust God for the results.
Grace for justice: Let God’s grace compel you to help bring His justice to people struggling with the world’s social issues. Ask yourself: “What are the problems in the world?”, “What is fueling them?”, “How am I part of the problem?”, and “How do I become a problem-solver?”. Pray for God to give you the grace you need to feel compassion for people in need and work to bring justice in the situations they face. Through God’s grace, use your spiritual power boldly for justice.
Grace for heaven: God’s grace will stay with you as you move from this life to the next. Rest assured that God will give you the grace you’ll need to face your death and join Him in your eternal home. Have confidence in the fact that God will also give your loved ones the grace they’ll need to go on after you leave.
Grace for completion: You can complete your life on earth well if you rely on God’s grace to help you live for Him to the fullest. Keep praying for a fresh supply of grace each day that you’re alive, trusting that God always has more valuable work for you to until He brings you home to heaven.
Adapted from Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, copyright 2008 by L.L. Barkat. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.
L.L. Barkat is a speaker and writer for WTW Ministry in New York. She is a former magazine designer, art director, editorial consultant and ad copywriter. Barkat also manages Social Issues Reading Clubs for persons who want to be informed about social issues and ways they can benefit the world community. She blogs at www.seedlingsinstone.blogspot.com.