May 7, 2008

All the Things Grace Is

2008 1513 page6 caphis morning I woke up with a song stuck in my head. It may have been because my alarm clock was set to the local Christian music station and as such, the song could have been piped into my brain while I was still groggy, thus lodging itself in my subconscious.
Explanations for its presence aside, the lyrics have been playing in my head all morning long. But it’s not a bad thing. Better these lyrics than some of the others that could easily get stuck there. A quick Google search (I just love that thing), and I discovered the singer, Christian recording artist Matthew West, and the song title, “Only Grace.” I’d recommend purchasing the album or downloading it from iTunes if you can.
The chorus of the song really got to me (and happened to be the part that I couldn’t get out of my head). It talks about there being only grace, love, and mercy that remain once your sins are erased, and that when those precious gifts are present, they are enough.
If you’ve ever wondered how to explain the concept of grace to your children, a searching friend, or even to remind yourself, understanding that concept is a powerful place to start.
2008 1513 page6Seriously speaking, how amazing is that? I have to pause and think about what I did to deserve such kindness. Not a whole lot, I can tell you. I wish that weren’t the case and that the goodness in my life, the mercy I’ve received, was a result of my flawless character. But it’s not. It’s because I’m a sinning mess, because I’m weak, prone to make messes, and easily spurred to sorrow. For all that, I get to be saved, to be treated like I never did anything wrong in my life. It boggles my mind how much God loves us, and loves those who don’t even know Him or care to know Him.
God’s grace to me is all about not getting what you deserve. It’s like gorging on sweets and French fries all week long, skipping workouts, and then discovering you didn’t gain a pound. Or clocking 80 in a 55 mph zone and whizzing by a state trooper in plain sight only to have him sit there and let you go. You know he saw you and has every right to ticket you, but for whatever reason, you’ve been spared. God’s grace is like a Monopoly “Get Out of Jail Free” card. It is salvation for sinners. No questions asked.
God’s grace is mercy, and boy, is it more than enough!
Ephesians 2:4, 5 says: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
What are we to do in response to that? I don’t think anything we can do in this life can fully repay God for that level of kindness. But in the meantime, we can live a life of gratitude to Him. We can show others that same grace and mercy in our own lives. When my son doodles on our freshly painted walls, I can refrain from yelling at him and treat his great “sin” with love and gentleness. When we are treated unfairly or rudely, we don’t have to return the favor. We can swim against the current, so to speak, in reacting to wrong by taking the higher road. By dealing back grace, mercy, and love to those who have hurt or angered us.
It’s not easy, and we’ll fail many times, but God isn’t keeping a scorecard. And that’s the point.
There is no running tally of our disasters. Just grace.
Wilona Karimabadi is marketing and editorial director for KidsView, which is Adventist Review’s magazine for kids.