God's Sufficient Grace

by Ashton Belew

When I sat down (several times) to write out all that I learned during my 2 years as a fellow with First College, I felt like Spongebob in the episode where he’s sweating bullets trying to write one sentence about what he learned in boating school, but maybe not for the same reasons. Unlike Spongebob, I have no problem remembering all that the Lord has taught me through serving in the fellowship, but I do have a problem writing just a few paragraphs rather than an entire novel. God has been so faithful to me throughout my time on staff, and I hope that faithfulness is evident and encouraging in what you’ll read in this post. In reflecting on these 2 years, I can say with confidence that throughout transition, confusion, joy, and difficulty, the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient.

His grace is sufficient in provision. In the midst of a weird transition from undergraduate study to graduate school and as I was unsure where the Lord wanted me to serve after graduation in 2018, RJ invited me to apply to be a fellow. Through prayer and not really knowing what this job and full-time school would look like, I accepted, and in that first semester of lots of new, God provided abundantly. In my crazy brain about what my future as an SLP (speech-language pathologist) would look like, He provided wisdom and support in RJ and Becca. They encouraged me in my questions and challenged me to see a new perspective on what it looks like to spend your life in ministry and work for God’s glory in all things. He provided renewed perspective on the importance of the local church in strengthening the faith of believers and sending them out as witnesses, as well as a closer look at the hearts of those who lead our local church. God provided opportunity to be faithful in all the “small” things that became the “big” things, like inviting my classmates into life beyond school and loving them well in a new context.

His grace is sufficient in sanctification. In fact, God loves us so much that He desires to make us new, to tear apart those things that separate us from Him so that we can know Him in His grace all the more deeply. I was challenged by fellow students to consider the legacy I would leave behind – would my faith & works spur others on to love God and others more? I got really real with some of my sisters in Christ, and together, we learned to call out our sin, bring it to light, then cover one another with grace and truth. We took a trip to New Orleans to work with GenSend for spring break, and to be honest, that trip alone deserves a whole blog post itself! I watched our team thrive in serving the lost of the city and grow in the knowledge and power of the Lord to save and heal. I learned that every moment is a choice between Spirit and flesh (Galatians 5:16-17), and that God desires for us to sacrifice the things of our flesh, so that we would rely all the more on His Spirit alone.

His grace is sufficient in confusion and doubt. During a difficult season of hard questions, where I struggled and wrestled with God over things I couldn’t understand, the Lord humbled me and taught me to bring every doubt to His feet. I experienced richer communion with God as I learned (the hard way, of course) that He is good in the waiting for answers and clarity. I learned how to be vulnerable in my community and what a blessing that community can be when your brothers and sisters remind you again and again of what is true when your feelings and doubts say otherwise. God showed me through this season that His promises are always greater than my perceptions, that He is able to speak to us, even through silence, and that He is always shepherding us, even through the night.

His grace is sufficient in uncertainty and unknown. I’m sure you can all relate to this one based on recent events in our world, including a global pandemic and racial unrest. We live in a broken world, but in the midst of all the fear, sickness, tension, and pain, we can know for sure that God is not asleep at the wheel, and He is able to use even the darkest and most broken things for good. I remember feeling all the feels when quarantine first started – God, what about all the good things we were planning to do with this semester? But even then, the Father was using all things for good. He humbled me in my confusion and reminded me over and over again that even the good works I do to serve the Lord are not about me or based on my ability. When I work for the Lord, whether in the midst of a pandemic or not, He alone has the power to save and use my feeble efforts for His glory. God has used this season to refine me, to teach me how to fix my eyes all the more on the faithful character and work of God in my life, and to loosen my grip on literally everything else – my job, my family, my physical health, my preferences, my plans, and even my ministry – because it’s all His anyways. Our Father is constant and unchanging despite our fickle and broken world, and He loves us with a steadfast and immovable love. In all the craziness this life can bring, that is what we can rely on.

In all the things I never thought I’d do – teaching at College Worship, sharing the gospel with a random stranger in a coffee shop in New Orleans, finishing grad school in a field I love, learning to become a better pancake-maker than RJ, leading a girls’ retreat, sharing life with and investing in amazing women, celebrating graduations, marriages, and births, cheering through countless football games, climbing a water tower or two, visiting new places, making plans for the future, watching as the Lord wrecked those plans, and learning to trust Him more all along the way – God’s grace has been sufficient. His grace was sufficient when I was scared or confused, when I doubted how He would make good, when I was filled to the brim with my own pride, and in all of the in-between. And His grace will be sufficient still, until that same grace makes us new to enjoy Him forever and ever.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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