“On my good days I find grace in any number of places . . . . On bad days, I don’t find grace anywhere, but that usually means I’m not paying attention.” Nancy Thomas, preface, The Secret Colors of God: Poems by Nancy Thomas (Barclay Press, 2005), p. xiii.About a year ago, I started getting a message. The message was, “When they ask you to speak, say yes.” I had no idea who the “they” was, or where I would be asked to speak, but otherwise the message was clear. I don’t get specific instructions from God very often, so when I do, I try to pay attention.
Soon after, I got an email from the women’s conference organizers, asking if I would be willing to consider being a plenary speaker at the conference. That seemed like the question I had been waiting to hear. But as I read the rest of the email, I saw that the theme of the conference would be “Living in the life and power: Inviting, Contemplating, and Enacting Grace.”
Despite growing up in the evangelical church―or maybe because I did―grace has never been a very meaningful concept for me. It is a word I have heard my entire life, but I had never given it much thought.
Around the same time, I had a conversation with my friend Betsy. I told her that I was trying to discern whether to volunteer as a plenary speaker for the women’s conference. I said that I had felt a leading to speak, but I didn’t know what I would say about grace. She responded, “I think grace is a wonderful thing for you to live into for the next year.”
So I told the planning committee that I did feel led to be a plenary speaker, and I asked to speak on the topic of “inviting grace,” because that was what I would be doing!
Since then, grace has appeared everywhere. Once I started paying attention, I noticed how often it comes up in conversation. I also began asking others what grace means to them and how it has affected their lives. Slowly, I began to get a sense of the message I might give at the conference.
Grace is still a vast and mysterious concept for me, but I have enjoyed the perspectives on it that women have shared in their papers, and I look forward to the time we will spend together in June sharing our experiences of grace.