What is Grace?

Life has never promised an easy path, yet so many times we look at our predicaments and can't seem to understand why they aren't as clear or simple as the next man's scene. This is where grace abounds.

I heard the Gospel when I was 16 years old. Sure, I'd heard many times before about Jesus being the son of God and being born and dying --- my family, fractured as it was, celebrated Christmas and Easter. But I had somehow missed the "why" and "what now" portions of the story. I started attending church with a friend who had gotten "saved" at a Young Life sponsored event. I didn't really know what "saved" meant, but Kelly's life had been radically changed. She had purpose. She had hope. More than anything, she had peace! I wanted those things desperately. At the time, I was struggling with depression and an eating disorder (of which the entire purpose was to add an element of control to my wildly confusing life). The night before my first time going to church (of my own volition), Kelly shared Matthew 6:25-34.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
Do Not Worry
 
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 
 
I was struck between the eyes - God's finger pointing directly at the problem - this same God who took care of the birds and the flowers was taking care of me. I didn't have to work so hard to keep my life from spiraling, I could simply breathe.

It wasn't until a few months later at another church that I heard the full Gospel: not only did Christ love me, He wanted me to totally relinquish my life to him - sin and all. I had to accept that Christ's death on the cross was not simply because He loved me but because He was rescuing my soul from eternal separation from God in Hell. Christ's death was part of the redemption plan He had taught the Israelites long ago: there must be atonement for sin otherwise the sin will always remain and the consequence will be unchanged.

Romans 3:23 (ESV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesian 2:8-9 (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Because I called out to the Creator of the Universe, confessed my sin, and accepted His forgiveness for ALL my wrongdoing (past, present, and future) I am now blessed to live a life of grace!

So what is this grace? Grace is all of the hope, peace, and joy that I never deserved OR earned. It is freely given by God because of His love. I like to think of life as a cup of water. Sure, maybe my situation may seem like the glass is half-full and life isn't too bad, but God takes that glass of water and fills it to the brim! And the half of it I mistakenly thought I worked out, well, in reality, it was within God's control, not mine all along.

Psalm 139:1-18 (ESV)
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

So why not grow with me? Accept Christ as your Savior! He doesn't promise a life of ease, but there will always be abundant grace.

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