"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16 KJV)
“But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass (His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man). For if many died through one man’s falling away (his lapse, his offence), much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift (that comes) through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for (the benefit of) many.” (Romans 5:15 AMPC)
“God sees us not as we are but as we will become.” ---Ken Costa
Ugly made Beautiful
Wrong made Right
Sin made Righteous
Dark made Light
Broken made Whole
Twisted made Straight
Vile made Holy
Small made Great
Grace is hard to define because it is such a wonderful, amazing, powerful thing. Grace came by, of, and through Jesus. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) The common definition of grace is the ‘unmerited favor of God,’ but this definition is just not enough to depict what grace really is. Grace is:
Grace is extraordinary. Grace pushes past the wrong done, the hurt received, the violence perpetrated, the soul tangled, and loves anyway. God displayed His grace in Jesus on the Cross saying, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) God extended grace to the thief next to him on the Cross, saying, "Today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) Grace found Saul on the road to Damascus and blinded him with the light of His love; a man who had been renowned and feared for killing Christians. Grace can be seen in the forgiving father of the prodigal son, who ran out to meet him and threw his arms around him after he had been away living a disobedient, rebellious life. Grace is God calling David “a man after his own heart;” even though, as part of his past, David had Uriah premeditatively killed at the front lines of a battle, so that he could have his wife.
Have you ever needed grace? Have you ever made a mistake? Failed deeply? Done something that made your heart ache so much you couldn’t escape it, no matter what you did? Have you ever betrayed someone you love? Have you ever hurt someone you love more than life itself? Have you ever been involved with someone or something that made you feel so worthless, so profoundly dirty that you never thought you would ever be clean again? Have you lied? Have you murdered someone with your tongue? Have you ever thought you’d done so much wrong that nothing and no one could ever make it right again?
I have. I know what it is to need the grace of God. I know what it is to regret, to lament the past.
I also know what it is to be touched by the grace of God, to be loved, to be forgiven, and accepted despite my past. I know what it is to have the King of Glory show up in the middle of my sin and shame. I know what it is to be restored, to be made whole, not because of anything I am, but because of everything He is. I didn't deserve His kindness, or His love, but grace left the ninety-nine, and came to find me on the cliff of my guilt and shame. (Luke 15:3-7) Grace stooped down low to meet me at the level I had grown accustomed to, and whispered; “Do you know what your name means? I had your parents call you Anne. Anne means 'grace.' I knew you would need my grace long before you ever knew you would need it. What you have done is not who you are. You are my child, I love you, and I'm here to bring you home." He gently picked me up, held me close to His chest as my tears and His grace flowed together as one.
It’s what grace does. I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t earn it. It just showed up when I needed it most.
Grace is a gift. The only thing you can do with a gift is receive it. God did all the work. He purchased the gift with His own blood, He wrapped the gift with His great love for you, and He tied it closed with the bow of forgiveness. When He set the box of His grace before me, at first I hesitated. I looked at my accusers—they knew what I had done, they knew what I deserved. I looked at myself—I was so filthy, I had done so much wrong, I wasn’t worthy of a gift, let alone one this grand and extravagant. Then I looked at Him—He wasn’t condemning me, He was looking at me with eyes so full of love and compassion. He handed me the gift of His grace and I received it. As I untied the bow of His fierce forgiveness, my eyes filled with tears and my heart expanded. As I removed the wrapping of His unrelenting mercy, I felt my guilt and shame give way. As I opened the gift of His grace, His extravagant love washed over me in waves.
My accusers are still there. Self-doubt may come to call. But once I had received His amazing grace, guilt and shame couldn’t own me anymore. This grace is amazing because it is unusual. It doesn’t play by man-made rules and I don’t get to decide who receives it and who doesn’t. Grace levels the playing field. You can’t be good enough and I can’t be bad enough to outdo God’s grace. Neither one of us can earn it. But we both need it. Listen to Ephesians 2:4-9; “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
God can take the vilest of sinners and turn them into a breathtaking masterpiece of His grace. Grace takes away our right and our need to judge. “There but for the grace of God go I,” is no longer just a quote I say, it’s a reality I recognize most humbly. I know what I am capable of without the grace of God working in my life. By faith I believe that God took me out of the way, He paid my debt, so that I can now live His life (Romans 6). And the more I discover about this grace I am standing in, the more I realize I had not fully accepted the depths of it for myself. Pastor Michael Todd said this, while speaking on grace; “The reason most of us don’t give grace away freely to other people is because we have not fully received it for ourselves.” I realized that for most of my life, I had packed my own grace measuring stick around with me, like God somehow put me in charge of determining where and how He measured grace??? What I’ve found is: His grace cannot be measured, because the person who I might think could never be used by God, is the very person God will rescue and show His glory through. Truth be told, the people who I had considered the worst sorts of people (at least until God had me look in the mirror), were those who were the most open to receiving God’s grace because they were aware they needed it. The person who feels they are ‘good’ may not see their need for God’s grace because they are standing in their own righteousness (which, by the way, God calls “filthy rags”—Isaiah 64:6).
Have you fully received the grace of God? Are you aware of the vastness of the gift you have been given? I encourage you to receive it fully and to give it away freely to yourself, (because you will mess up again), to your past, (because without grace it will rob you of your present and future,) and to everyone who has hurt you or will hurt you in the future, (because hurting people hurt people, and we all need the grace of God.)
Grace is amazing. Grace is overwhelming. Grace is beautiful. Grace is a gift.
Grace doesn’t dig up your past, grace heals your past. Grace knows what you did, what you said, who you hurt and pursues you anyway. Grace sees you through eyes of love and mercy, not with eyes of judgment and hate. Grace is inexhaustible and always available. Grace allows people to change. Grace does not allow you to keep doing whatever you want (Romans 6), but rather grace constrains you to love like Jesus loves (II Corinthians 5:14).
Grace is not holding anything against you, it is holding its arms out to you...
Another Voice I Heard
Once upon a time in my dark past
I yielded to fear, did a horrible deed
I betrayed trust, hurt someone I love
Dug a trench so wide and so deep
For years I hid it away in my heart
For years I buried it, I let it lay
Under the surface, enclosed in pain
It festered there, polluting my days
Shame my constant companion
Whispering condemning words
When one day beyond my guilt
Suddenly another voice I heard
"Yes, what you've done was awful
And never should have been done,
But Child, I died so you might live
The victory has already been won
I have not come to condemn you
I have come to set you free
Those holding rocks can't harm you
My grace will meet your need."
I couldn't believe His kindness
I couldn't believe His love
I fell to my knees in tears
His mercy reigned from above
Grace looks beyond the offense
Grace looks beyond what was done
Grace looks past my sinful deeds
Grace unveiled in the Son
My accusers may still be there
To them I am worthless, ignored
But grace doesn't ask my accusers
Grace asks only the Lord
He thinks thoughts that are higher
He loves with a love so huge
Those with the stones will scatter
As His reckless kindness pursues
I know who I am without Him
I know what I am capable of
Without His grace and mercy
I am void, without heart, undone
We all have need of His grace
We all have need of His Cross
We are all in the same state
Hopelessly, desperately lost
So, who are you holding hostage?
Yourself, your neighbor, your friend?
Your mother, your father, your colleague?
When will the antithesis of grace end?
We don't get to decide who receives
Our works don't determine grace
He gives it freely to anyone
Who receives the sacrifice He made
Put down your weapons of anger
Put down your rocks of hate
Look at the freedom you're missing
In the light of His great love and grace...
Written by Anne Marie Hawke
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qUIET IN CHAOS
Quiet in Chaos is a blog about nothing, everything, and all things inbetween…it’s a space, an ellipsis, a deep pause. Life can be chaotic, and often needs more moments of quiet…So join me as I share and give through the written word, the place I find my Quiet in Chaos…