Cycle of Grace Summary
by Joy McAuley
There are four dimensions in the Cycle of Grace. We begin, or we could say God begins, with our complete and undeserved acceptance by God through Jesus. This is pure grace pouring into our lives. We haven’t done anything to bring that grace into our lives, it’s just a gift from God. The second dimension, sustenance, is a joint effort between us and God. This is where we prayerfully and intentionally put practices and habits into our lives so that we are in a posture to receive God’s grace. We are partnering with God in receiving his grace. These two dimensions are input dimensions, and in the third and fourth we see the output of that grace. After sustenance, we move into significance where we ask the question, “How has God uniquely made me to interact in this time and place where he has me?” This is where we can look at our experiences, gifts, strengths, circumstances, environment, mission…and see what God is inviting us into. Fruitfulness, the final dimension, flows from this conversation with God on our significance. This is the cycle of grace pouring into our lives and out into the world around us. It is us working WITH God rather than FOR God.
This model becomes even clearer when we look at the opposite cycle which we’ll call the Cycle of Works. We often start with the fruit that we think God wants, or the ministry that we envision doing for Him. Or what we feel like we should be doing. It might be good fruit and ministry, but when we start our plans with fruitfulness rather than God’s grace, we move through the cycle hoping that this fruit will give us significance or make us feel worthy. We hope that significance or worth will sustain us, keeping us going and bringing us joy and peace…and deep down, we are picturing the acceptance this fruit will bring us — acceptance from God, others, and ourselves. Unfortunately, while we are working FOR God instead of WITH God, acceptance and sustenance becomes illusive and we get burned out in ministry before we get refilled with God’s grace.