Another way to practice self-care is to look for the good. This week, try focusing on what is positive, what is a blessing from God. I call this approach to life “Grace-Hunting.” To better understand Grace-Hunting, let’s first understand the opposite approach to life, what I call “Sin-Hunting.”
Sin-Hunting is looking first for what is wrong with people. This approach is featured in the Christmas song about Santa who is making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. We are not Santa, nor are we the Holy Spirit who, in part at least, is at work to convict our hearts of sin. Sin Hunters tend to look first for the specks in our other people’s eyes, in their neighbor’s yard, or in their co-worker’s lifestyle. They tend also to see first their own shortcomings and are excessively hard on themselves for not being perfect.
Grace Hunters may be accused by Sin Hunters as being soft on sin or ignorant about the reality of human fallenness. Grace Hunters are are realists about the presence of human troubles, especially as we find them in our own lives. But Grace Hunters choose to see first God’s grace as present in everyday life all around us, and God’s grace is always viewed as greater and more powerful than any sin. Grace Hunters seek first the things of God, the Kingdom of God, the goodness of God, the grace of God.
Looking for the good is more than mere mushy sentimentality, and more than merely being nice. Grace Hunters are motivated by the Grace of Jesus Christ, not merely by human need for acceptance or human happy emotionalism.
Grace Hunting is not mere tolerance or pluralism. Grace Hunters live within the shadow of God’s holiness, righteousness and justice. We have witnessed the destructive power of unrighteousness, the ignorance of unbelief, the stupidity of sinful ways of living parading around as cultural accepted norms; yet we press on looking for evidence of God’s Grace in the midst of the stinking, rotting, corruption that is also evident in this world around us.
Barnabas, one of my favorite persons in the New Testament, was a grace hunter. He provides us with helpful ways to go grace hunting.
First, look around, using the eyes of your heart, to look and look and look for God’s grace before you speak. Become an observer of human behavior, facial expressions, hand gestures. Be a Treasure Hunter! Seek after the Grace of Jesus Christ!
Believe that God showed up in a person’s life long before you ever arrived on the scene! Believe that God has already begun a good work of grace in a person’s life. Look for those places where good is already present.
The place of grace is often the lowest place in a person’s life, or the lowest place in society. Grace, like water flows to low places. Allow yourself the humility, honor of stepping gently into people’s broken places. Look there, in low places for signs of God’s grace!
Barnabas traveled over 300 miles north to Antioch of Syria, into the pluralistic commercial religious corruption of that city, and instead of seeing corruption, Barnabas looked for evidence of God’s grace, as we read in Acts 11:23.
When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
After some time, as we read in Acts 11:25, Barnabas traveled 150 miles to look for Saul in the city of Tarsus. He found what he was looking for, and recruited Saul to come teach and pastor with him in Antioch.
Another way to look for the good as a Grace Hunter is to learn to celebrate. Grace Hunters are people who continually allow their lives to be filled with the grace of Jesus Christ, like a pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice that keeps pouring out and keeps getting refilled. There is a flow of grace upon grace out of the fulness of God’s presence
For we have all received from Christ’s fullness, grace upon grace. John 1:16
The more we pour out grace, looking for grace in others, the more backfilling of God’s grace will come into our lives. The opposite is also true: the more we pour out condemnation, criticism, crabbiness, judgment upon others, the more we will find our lives filled with condemnation, criticism, crabbiness, judgment.
Barnabas rejoiced often, filled with God’s surprise love for people, among whom he discovered evidence of God’s Grace. Grace begets grace. Find little gaps in this day, in every day, throughout the day, to rejoice and celebrate the grace of Jesus Christ. Christ’s grace allows us to be people who truly celebrate, even in the presence of mortality, evil and death! Daily, learn to offer prayers of gratitude for the gift of life, for little signs of God’s favor as evidenced in the anonymously written poem below, If I had my life to live over:
If I had to live my life over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances. I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live seriously and sanely,
hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments. And if I had it to do over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without
a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had it to do again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had to live my life over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
I am married to a Danish woman. The Danish word for happiness, Lykke, is an expression of inner joy and gratitude, a way of life that looks for the good in others, and looks for the good in all things. Take a look at the 2019 journaling book, My Little Lykke Journal: How to be Happy by Finding the Good in the World, Eva Olsen (St. Martin’s Press, NY, 2019).
Another excellent book resource for looking for the good, is Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter. Here are a few passages from Porter’s classic on looking for the good, what Pollyanna calls playing the Glad Game:
“What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened … Instead of always harping on a man’s faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut … Hold up to him his better self, his real self that can dare and do and win out! … People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts.”
“… there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
“Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about—no matter what ’twas.”
“What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened…. Instead of always harping on a man’s faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut of bad habits. Hold up to him his better self, his REAL self that can dare and do and win out! … The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town…. People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts. If a man feels kindly and obliging, his neighbors will feel that way, too, before long.But if he scolds and scowls and criticizes—his neighbors will return scowl for scowl, and add interest! … When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good—you will get that…”
“… if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it—SOME.”