God's enabling grace wasn't what my husband and I expected to see when we attended Dr. Paul Tripp's marriage video series, What Did You Expect?, at our church. After all, we reassured one another, we weren't attending to shore up our marriage. But as part of the research for my new book for special needs families that includes a marriage component.
As you might expect, the Holy Spirit used the series to reveal that realigning to His will certain attitudes within our marriage, rather than my book research, was the primary reason He'd prompted us to attend. It was a time of conviction and repentance for both of us, and our marriage benefited from it.
But, in what I have come to comprehend is the economy of God, He also used Dr. Tripp's words in the final Sunday morning video to assure us and other couples of His constant presence and love. Dr. Tripp reminded us of a truth that brought me to tears because I immediately saw that it applied not only to the tough spots in our marriage, but to the hard places we'd experienced while parenting our son with special needs.
Dr. Tripp called this truth God's enabling grace.
I was too busy hunting for a tissue as the words soothed my weary, convicted soul to scribble down Tripp's exact definition. But an excerpt from his post about 6 kinds of grace explains it well:
"...grace reaches us where we are and takes us where God wants us to be. You see, God's not simply content to give us salvation and then leave us alone until eternity. Rather, He wants us to become more like His Son and work for the furtherance of His Kingdom right here, right now.
But remaining sin leaves us lame and weak and unable. God's grace intervenes to give us power and strength. It's gives us the ability to do what we're called to do but what we could never do on our own."
Tripp's definition of God's enabling grace exactly described our experience raising our son.
Memories of the awful times when we faced with more than we could handle flashed through my mind:
- When he was life flighted for surgery on the day he was born.
- When at 2 months he quit breathing in my arms and my husband revived him.
- Driving for hours to doctor's appointments after sleepless nights.
- Pumping milk for a year for my baby who was allergic to every formula.
- Seeing the fear in our boy's eyes every time he was wheeled away for tests or surgeries.
- Hearing the premiere surgeon in the country say he would never do surgery on our child again.
- Saying good-bye when our young adult son joined a monastery.
- Walking with him into a PTSD treatment clinic.
We made it through those awful times only because of God's enabling grace.
And, I realized as I wiped away tears and blew my nose, my husband and I not only made it through those awful times, we came out of them stronger. Just as Tripp said, God used His grace in those times to reach us where we were and take us where He wanted us to be. If anyone sees Christ in me or my husband, we know it is because God's enabling grace made us more like His Son. If we are better able to further the kingdom of God today than ever before, it is because of God's enabling grace.
Despite our sins that leave us weak and lame and unable, God's enabling grace continues to intervene and infuse my husband and me with His power and strength. Every day, all day, day after day, God's enabling grace gives us the ability to do what He has called us to do. But, we have not cornered the market on enabling grace.
Because God's enabling grace has been and is present in you, too.
To prove it, ask God to bring to mind the awful moments you've made it through since your child with special needs was born. Then, write them down. Reflect on how you survived them and how those experiences have made you stronger. Look for ways God has made you more Christlike since the arrival of your child. Think about how you are building the kingdom of God within your family and your church. And ask yourself: Could I possibly have done that on my own? If your answer is no, ask yourself a second question: Then how did it happen? The answer is simple.
Through God's enabling grace.
Thank you, Lord, for your enabling grace at work in our lives even when we can't perceive it. Thank you for calling us to special needs parenting, which we can't do on our own. Thank you for making us dependent on your never ending supply of enabling grace. Amen