This is an article I wrote for the Spiritually Speaking column for the Times Colonist in Victoria, BC. You can find the original published here:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.
In my faith tradition we sing of God’s grace all the time. We sing these hymns without even thinking and, for some, they are just words to a familiar tune. However, the whole concept of grace is an amazing thing. Just consider the definition of the word in the Christian faith – the free and unmerited favour of God. In other words, God’s grace is something you cannot earn. Just imagine someone giving favour to you that you haven’t earned. Even still, perhaps you’ve made a real mess of your life and think that no one would accept you. Having grace extended to you in such a way is mind blowing.
For many of us, we are so aware of the grace we’ve received that we can’t help but extend that grace to others. We become gracious people, knowing how much we’ve been forgiven; we do our best not to judge others. Christian grace is merciful, compassionate, kind, forbearing, forgiving, generous magnanimous and benevolent.
For those who have received and fully experienced the grace of God, there is no other way to live.
For some, God’s grace is not something they’ve actually experienced. How do I know that? Because I’ve met Christians who are some of the least gracious people I know. They judge others harshly, expecting them to live up to unreachable standards. They determine who is “in” and who is “out.” They are more interested in the rule of religion than the love and mercy that Jesus demonstrated for us.
However, God’s love, mercy and grace are an ocean so deep many of us have only managed to dip our toes carefully in. Even still, that tiny experience of His grace is enough to fill us with His love and remind us that there are others who need to dip their toes in.
I read the story of Jacob recently. When I think that God took a man who was a liar, thief and a scammer and change his name to Israel and make a whole nation of him, I wonder at His grace. It’s the same with Saul – God chose a man who persecuted His followers and He became Paul, a great leader of the early church.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, and when we find ourselves in place of weakness, a place of sadness, or a place that’s a mess of our own making, God still reaches down to us with His grace. To the outcasts of our society God extends his grace. To those not included, He extends his grace. Even to those who have done terrible things, He extends His grace. These things can hold us back and stop us from experiencing God’s grace. But we have to look forward and not backward because when we are constantly looking in the rearview mirror, we’re in danger of crashing.
Joseph Yoo said, “When we open our heart to God and encounter His grace, we learn that grace was never an elusive thing that couldn’t be obtained, but that it was always here.”
Wherever you were, grace was there. Wherever you are, grace is there. Wherever you go – grace will go with you. Open your heart to God today and immerse yourself in that wonderful and boundless ocean of grace.