This post is one in a series of devotionals written by Lutherans in the U.S. and LWR staff around the world reflecting on their faith, which calls them to proclaim hope for those in need. Check out the rest of the devotionals in the series.
As we walk through the season of Lent together, announce to the world that the Hope of Christ makes a new season possible – a SEASON OF HOPE. Join us by energizing your congregation for global good through activities and service opportunities that connect us to our brothers and sisters in need around the world. Click here to get started.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast." — Ephesians 2:8-9 (NRSV)
When I was growing up in North Carolina, I was blessed to have parents who loved the Lord and taught me and my siblings to do likewise. They took us to church as a family every Sunday. In fact, I was in college before I can recall attending church without both of them (except once when my mom was ill). They not only took us to church, but, more importantly, they also showed us by example what it means to serve God by working in various ministries. We didn’t have material wealth by any means, but we always seemed rich because our parents modeled being happy in Christ.
As a result, I learned to enjoy serving in church and elsewhere, and especially by reading the word of God. This passage from Ephesians has always been a favorite of mine because it speaks to lessons I needed to learn early in life. As the youngest of eight children, I often felt intimidated by the success of my older siblings. They were very intelligent and very good athletes; their names were always in the newspaper. So when people compared me with them, I worried about my ability to live up to those expectations, especially athletically. I wondered what I could do to have people praise me like they did my siblings.
My mother’s wisdom challenged me to consider that worrying was counter to having faith in God. As she taught me, God loved me because I was his child, a gift to the world, made in his own image. I did not need to be a great athlete or do things to live up to other people’s expectations because God had predestined me for his own purpose to live according to his will. It didn’t matter what other people thought because God’s grace was sufficient. Once I accepted that this gift of grace is free and I don’t have to earn it, I could understand the hope and joy my parents found in serving God and their desire that we know such hope and joy, too.
Realizing that, I could then discern how God was calling me to serve him, including as a member of LWR’s board for 12 years. Through quilts that provide warmth, work with farmers that promotes sustainability, and innovation that helps marginalized communities be self-sufficient, LWR transforms lives. By accepting God’s call to serve through LWR, my faith has grown, not because of anything I’ve done, but through my gratitude for the opportunity to be used to make a positive difference in the world.
How does the knowledge of God’s grace free you to live out your calling for the sake of the world?
Most gracious and loving God, I thank you for your grace and mercy. I know I don’t deserve it, but I am grateful for the love you give me and the things you provide for me, chief among them salvation through the death of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Emma Graeber Porter, management consultant from New York City, a board member of LWR and of the new United Lutheran Seminary, is a member of New Hope Lutheran Church in Jamaica, Queens and founder of Graeber Consulting, Inc. She consults with many organizations, giving priority to nonprofit religious entities, to help them optimize the impact of their mission.
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