We can’t make it or own it. We can’t earn it. It’s freely and mysteriously and indiscriminately given. The goodness and mercy of the Lord follow us, as the Psalm says, all the days of our lives. But we can’t grab hold of grace. The moment we think we can trace its movements through our days is the moment we deny the mystery of those movements.
And yet our days are filled with God’s grace. God is always there, somewhere, somehow, working all things for the good, when we’re alone and afraid, when we’re broken by grief or shame, and when all we’ve got going is the work-a-day or the whining child. God is working as life’s storms surge, though we may think he’s asleep in the stern.
In my own life, I can track grace only in hindsight, but since my story isn’t over yet, I still see it darkly. But I know this much: it isn’t always pretty. It doesn’t always feel good. It can be inscrutable and painful. Sometimes I tremble at what I must thank God for, at what I have to call grace.
When the story of my life stalls or surprises or disappoints, the scriptures are a gift. I search the Bible for the story of God’s grace, and I find it every time. It is a love story: the tale of God’s unending relationship with his greatest creation. I see that God never gives up. He hunts for every sheep, every lost coin. He follows me all the days of my life. He runs out to meet me. He draws me to him in love, not in chains.
The scriptures remind me, above all else, to stay open to possibility. Grace doesn’t always look the way you think it will. Joseph’s brothers throw him into the cistern only to preserve him as their future hero. The bottom of that cistern didn’t look like the ground of grace. Neither did the pig’s trough, where the prodigal son found himself scrounging for a meal. Neither did the stable in Bethlehem.
God’s word is full of such surprises. The last are first and the lowly are lifted. The salvation of the world depends on the consent of a child: Let it be done to me according to your will. The king of the universe rides in on a donkey and dies a criminal’s death. He rises and invites his disciples to breakfast on the beach.
Whatever story my life seems to be telling, I can read the story of God in the world and manage at least one small prayer: “grace is sufficient.” I trust that Christ is its source and love its end.
–From the Introduction to Grace Filled Days 2016. Follow me for a chance to win a copy!