And God is able to make all grace abound to you.
2 CORINTHIANS 9:8
One of the most enlightening and freeing times in my personal spiritual journey was when I began discovering the gift of God’s grace. I knew that God had extended His grace to the whole human race by sending His Son, Jesus, to die as payment for our sins and to rise again so that we could have eternal life with God. But deep inside I still operated in the belief that God’s love for me had everything to with how well I performed. So when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, God’s name was added to the top of a long list of people I felt that I needed to please – people whose love I had to earn.
God didn’t allow me to operate in that belief for very long, however. While Dave and I lived in Puerto Rico, where Dave played winter ball, we participated in a Bible study on the book of Ephesians. Through that study I came to realize that God’s love for me had nothing to do with how well I performed nor was it about the works I did for Him. In fact, I learned that I couldn’t do anything to earn God’s love.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.
God also knew I needed more than a revelation about His grace – I needed an object lesson. That lesson came in the form of our daughter Tiffany – who was born with a strong will. No matter how many times her will and my will collided or how unlovely she acted – my love for Tiffany was totally unaffected by her actions. My love for her amazed me and for the first time I began to understand God’s grace. Because I had such great love and grace for my child, I was finally able to understand God’s love for me as His child in spite of my weaknesses and faults.
Years later, when Dave and I went through our times of personal suffering, grace once again played a key role in my spiritual journey. Like many people who endure the varied trials that come with a cancer diagnosis, we lost control of our lives. We were hurting. We weren’t fun to be around. We didn’t look like model Christians any longer. The ugliness of pain and suffering was clearly visible in our lives. We were ashamed – we needed grace.
Although many people in our lives at that time were unable to extend that grace to us – we thank God that a few of his children extended His grace to us. They forgave, accepted and loved us as we were – with all of our pain, ugliness, anger, doubt and shame.
Instead of telling us what we should or shouldn’t do – they let us vent and they listened. Instead of condemning us – they validated our feelings and were truly sorrowful with us over what we were going through – they wept with us. Instead of abandoning us because we were not being “very Christ-like” – they stood by us and helped see us safely through to the other side. Healing came as grace was given to us.
We learned firsthand what a gift is when grace was extended to us during our time of suffering. We all need someone to reach out to us with God’s gift of grace. Grace lifts us up and gives us hope.
Grace has been called “the glue that mends our brokenness,” and in suffering our brokenness is fully exposed. Grace, then, is indispensable in times of affliction. Grace says, “I love you warts and all. I understand that pain has stripped away the veneer that covers your raw, unlovely humanity. But you are made in God’s image. You are therefore, the most precious and priceless thing in all His creation. So I will extend unwarranted love and kindness toward you because God has extended it to me.”
And because God’s grace was extended to us in such a mighty way – we extend His grace to you.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
2 CORINTHIANS 13:14
On the journey with you,