There is a song in the Baptist Hymnal from which I grew up singing entitled “Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sins.” That song, as did so many other hymns, had me singing of grace from Sunday to Sunday with little understanding of what grace was truly all about. Each hymn describes grace in much the same straight forward language…as something that is always available no matter what I do, whether I deserved it or not. Sang about it, understood the concept, but just didn’t “get it.” I was simply too busy going to church and attempting to live as close to perfect a life as I could so that God would love me. It was exhausting! I did not have time to hear with my heart the message of grace in those hymns or the courage to believe it for my life.
I do not think that I was alone in this misguided belief system. The awesome gift of grace was not addressed much in my Sunday School years. There was a whole lot of sin, repenting and forgiveness taught, but little about grace. Forgiveness, for me, brought to mind sin which brought about shame and guilt, which brought about my inferred alienation from God. My reality was that surely, because of my sin, I had disappointed God and must quickly do whatever I could to get back in His “good graces.” Strange to see that phrase in the context of what we are discussing. My God back then was a very conditional God. I was living quite an emotional “roller coaster” type of existence, with little joy or relationship with the Lord.
Fast forward some 40 years (eek!) to the present. I am blessed to live in a time when and be a member of a church where the message of grace is boldly declared in God’s plan of salvation. I no longer readily assume that everything that goes wrong in my life is a form of God’s punishment and disapproval. It’s just life in a world scarred by sin, and, besides, God “never promised us a rose garden” (also a song!). Grace is part of God’s plan for ME, too! Seems like such an elementary truth to finally grab hold of and believe, or is it?
How about you? Is the concept of grace something you actually have allowed to take that trip from your head to your heart? Or maybe like me, you have been working too hard to secure grace by dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s of your life, but that has not brought you peace or joy in your relationship with the Lord. Perhaps you don’t believe grace could possibly be on God’s agenda for you. No way!
You couldn’t be more wrong. I want to close this discussion by sharing with you an excerpt from a book I highly recommend that you read whether you are struggling with God’s grace for you or not. The book is written by Andy Stanley, is simply entitled The Grace of God and it is an awesomely eye opening and uplifting read, filled with scripture and stories of God’s grace. Listen….
“So regardless of what you’ve done, regardless of how far you’ve strayed, regardless of how long it’s been since you addressed God directly, regardless of what you’ve been told, regardless of how you feel, grace awaits you! Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Grace, grace, God’s Grace. Case closed. Hallelujah! To God be the Glory!