What is grace? Grace is God’s kind of forgiveness for our sins, because He is really the only person who gets to say how the system of justice works for a believer. He is the only one with the perfect right to be offended because He can see our hearts, our motives. He lets His right go to punish us and He refuses to take our sin personally. Why? Because He is training children and He is the ultimate Father. Is God a pushover? He laid out right and wrong for us, now didn’t He? He has as many hopes and dreams for us as any good Father ever could, and He watches us as we repeatedly do less than our best, fail, sin, outright mess it up for many reasons because we are LEARNING. So why in the world would we get grace when we mess up? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get sent to our room and go without our dinner until we get it right? Isn’t He dedicated to our getting it right? Doesn’t He care?
I think the key is what getting it right means? Is getting it right about law or love? What is Grace able to do that punishment doesn’t do? If I get it wrong as I am wont to do, and I go to the Law giver, the perfect one, the one who knows me best, and I tell Him that I am sorry, He gives me grace. He forgives me. I can take it instantly and walk away absolved , or I can refuse to take it and do penance or beat up on myself as long as I want, believing He is so disappointed with me that He is pacing the Golden Streets wringing His hands in utter despair and exasperation. But if I think long enough, I know He is not wringing His hands because He is perfect peace, and He is not exasperated, because He knew my imperfection was out there and He even knew I was headed for a fall. I bring him the broken law, and He covers it with love. That is grace.
So what does grace teach me? It teaches me the ONE thing that He wants me to know more than any other thing. HE LOVES ME UNCONDITIONALLY. His love is more powerful than anything. It covers a multitude of sins. It casts out fear. It scoops me up and cradles me every time I choose to receive it. There is no other way for me to know that. If He punished me, I would then believe that I had to perfect myself to earn his favor. I would go back out, trying to get it right. I would strive and work and sweat and try and cringe and fail. But instead, He gives me grace.
He must say something like, “Bless her heart, I know she’s trying. She thought she’d take a shortcut, and now she has a set back. I’ll give her more love because that’s what she needs. More of my love will make her more secure and she won’t need a short cut next time because she can rest in my love. My love will make her more stable and more able. That is precisely what she needs: more of my love. I AM LOVE and I have lots to spare and I don’t want to hurt her or discourage her, so here honey, take more of my love. Every time you see a weakness, and you come and show me a hole you have found that makes you hurt or weak, I’ll pour love in there until your heart is filled with my love. And stop fretting about your weaknesses. We will overcome them together. I will give you grace and you will overcome. You just keep coming to my throne asking for grace, the stronger you will get and the more able you will be to jump the hurdles in your life. I like to call it overcoming, conquering with grace. It is my plan. It was why my Son came and died for you, so you could have a transfusion of grace anytime you needed it. I am so sorry for you, sweetie, when you think you are under the law, trying hard to keep it together, obey, get it all right to please me. Stop wearing yourself out. Enter my rest. My grace is sufficient for you. Remember? And one other thing, when you don’t take my grace, my unconditional love, you will judge everyone around you because you think I am judging you. When you know I am not judging you, then you will also be able to love other people even when you see their weaknesses, because you will want to give them grace. Grace receivers are grace givers. Law abiders judge others.
The next time you get a speeding ticket, if such a thing were possible, would your driving skills be more improved by a ticket or by grace? I don’t know about you, but grace makes me feel way happier and I feel myself wanting to obey traffic rules for a totally different set of reasons. I love the state patrolman who offered me grace, and I love the other drivers as I pull back out on the highway. I am ready to drive more carefully, extending grace up and down the highway, grateful for grace.
We are told to go boldly to the throne of grace. Boldly. Can you imagine? How can we approach God boldly when we are wrong and He is right and ask to be exonerated? Jesus paid for this great privilege. It is THE PLAN. Because grace is what makes us able to live this life of love and there isn’t one other way to do it. If we have figured out another way, we aren’t playing by God’s rules. We come for grace. Period the end. Grace makes us strong. Grace abounds. There is plenty of it.
Grace changes us. Grace loves others. And there we have it, in a nutshell. Today, let’s celebrate grace. A plan way too good to be true, and yet it is!