Grace is such a small, beautiful word, holding within it’s five letters the meaning, power and might of God’s bountiful gifts bestowed upon both the faithful and faithless, the deserving and undeserving, those in need, and those with enough.
As I finished the last chapter this weekend of Philip Yancey’s What’s So Good About God, I burst into tears while reading about a policeman named Van De Broek as he recounted the horror of his crimes against humanity at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Years after shooting and burning the body of an eighteen year old boy, he then went into the teenager’s home and burned the boy’s father to death on a woodpile after pouring gasoline over his body – in front of his wife. When this courageous woman and mother was given the chance to speak at the Commission, she asked for two things. One request was for Van de Broek to go to gather the ashes of her husband to give him a decent burial. The second request was that twice a month Van de Broek visit her in the ghetto where she lived, because she said she had a lot of love still to give, and so that she could mother him. She also told him and that he was forgiven by God.
Yancey goes on to say, “Some in the courtroom spontaneously began singing “Amazing Grace” as the elderly woman made her way to the witness stand, but Van de Broek did not hear the hymn. He had fainted, physically overwhelmed by grace.”
We stand in awe of grace, the shepherd of forgiveness, the deliverer of mercy, the shining diamond of God’s provisions, the heart of God’s character. Multi-faceted, profound, unexpected, grace sweeps into the heart of the human soul, wiping clean the grime, softening the edges of sorrow-filled hearts, appointing us new roles, offering free tickets to participate in creating heaven on earth.
“To each of us grace has been given as Christ appointed it…some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers”, each of us called to use our gifts to serve others “as faithful stewards of God’s grace.” Ephesians 4:10-11
“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” – Acts 6:8
What gifts of grace have you been given? How are you using these gifts? Or what steps can you take to use your gifts?
St. Paul, once a murderer of Christians, called by grace “to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God”, helped spread the word of God to Gentiles that blasted throughout the centuries.
I think of ministers of grace visiting prisoners in crowded cement cells, speaking words of truth into hardened hearts, where sprouts of redemption break through parched souls, purifying and transforming lives. Grace– the hope that shines upon our prodigal sons and daughters shape-shifting the souls of God’s wayward, clothes them in robes of splendor where parents waiting with outstretched arms cry out, “Let us eat and be merry! For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost and is found!”
Alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, adulterers, transformed by Amazing Grace, receive divine instruction to live new lives:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; No to ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled Godly lives.” – Titus 2:12
The law condemns the best of us; but grace saves the worst of us. – Joseph Prince
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. -Reinhold Niebuhr
I watched a documentary last night by Michael Moore where the cameras document children in a German classroom as a teacher instructs them to put into one small suitcase what they would bring if they were from a Jewish family when the Gestapos shows up to take them away, allowing them only one suitcase. Teaching the reality of the Holocaust is required in German schools so the horrendous crime won’t happen again. Grace paints compassion on the faces of these young Germans, also drenching their young hearts with the gift of repentance, peace and love to carry into a new generation.
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it.” -1Corinthians3:10
Throughout the Bible and our own life, showers of grace have rained upon us – upon a broken humanity in need of wholeness, unity, peace and building heaven on earth.
The greatest gift of grace, of course, is the gift of Christ, Christ whose grace is sufficient for living a rich life — Christ who assures us we’ll be clothed better than the lilies of the field, and provided for much more than the birds of the air.
“For it is through grace we have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8-9
A life in Christ is a graceful life where we rest in the assurance that “my God will supply every need.. according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-11
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work…You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8-11
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16
“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” -1Tim 1:14
Where are you being graced in your life right now? What enormous grace has changed you?
Who in your life needs grace who you can pray for? How can grace help you be a shepherd of grace for them? How can you allow grace to lead your way in difficult areas of your life? How can you surrender today to it’s magnificence?