Baptized and raised in the Lutheran church, I have heard the word “grace” all my life. I learned that grace is God’s unconditional love. We are placed in a right and loving relationship with God not by our moral actions or good work, but by God’s gift of grace through Jesus Christ as I trust in God’s promise of grace.
As a young adult I memorized Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
Though I intellectually understand this, I don’t fully live into it. Like many Americans I have grown up with the central concept of doing, striving and accomplishment – that I must work hard to get anywhere in this world, even in the church or with God. The idea that I can live, breath, and experience grace as a daily gift is challenging for me.
Frederick Beuchner expands my images of grace in his book, Beyond Words (2004).
Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.
A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?
A crucial centrality of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do.
The grace of God means something like: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”
There is only one catch. Like any gifts, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.
Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too. (p. 139)
How have you experienced GRACE daily?
Lord Jesus, teach me to live by grace.