A midlife reflective moment arrived for me recently and it was all about God’s grace in my life, what it means, how it’s changed me, its significance and value.
What do you think about when you think about God’s grace? Do you really know what it means? (Find the definition of GRACE here.) When was the last time you stopped midlife and reconsidered what God’s grace, through Jesus Christ, has meant to you? Has it permanently changed you, your life, or your eternity beyond your church walls? Does it still hold the same significance it did on the first day you believed and took your first step of faith? Does it reflect value beyond the knowledge of God you’ve collected over the years?
Grace. I’ve needed it, always have, especially when I didn’t know I needed it as a new believer. I once thought belief in God, baptism, church attendance, and a growing Biblical knowledge were enough to propel my relationship with God into what He wanted. I knew no different. Then as a teen, I watched myself sink under the waves of weakness, unbelief, fear, doubt, and unfaithfulness. As I soon found, obeying God’s commands were impossible for me to keep on my own, I broke every one, in one way or another. I remember the night He drew me into choosing to really follow Him, the night I met Jesus, His Holy Spirit, and my Savior. I wasn’t the same after that evening at the ripe age of seventeen. Gratefully, I continued to seek answers within His word decade after decade and understand that I needed His grace to make up for my desperate lack. I realized that apart from Jesus Christ, I could do nothing to please God on my own. It was because of His guidance, daily renewal, and reliability that I began to step away from shallow religious performance and image–and into an eternal relationship with Him. I began to trust Jesus and love Him like no one else. As I look back, I realize now He was drawing me into this truth even while I struggled with my security, acceptance, and significance. I didn’t know how to follow Him but He guided me every step of the way anyway. Let’s never forget John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I personally continue to need grace just as much today as I did then and I will need it in all its forms beyond my last breath. Some in or outside of church walls may believe God’s grace remains a daily license for sinning or never changing–but those walking by the Spirit know better. When we welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit into our lives, we cannot help but joyfully see more clearly. We not only witness more gifts of His goodness than we deserve but cannot help celebrate His grace and our faith in Him. Because of this grafting process, we cannot help but desire to please Him either. We are now able to delight in a loving God with all our hearts and with His profound help, love our neighbors as ourselves. Yes, receiving this grace because of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross–humbles. It reminds us every day how truly limited, imperfect, forgiven, and sought after we are. I would trade my dead-end sin state for His life-giving grace and the gift of His Holy Spirit any day. I’m grateful my dire need still remains clear to Him and His compassion overwhelms me. Without His help, I’d remain so very lost.
Grace isn’t a cover-up, a white-wash, or something that remains a one time experience. It’s neither a pass to drive into sin for the true believer. The Lord’s grace–continues to love, transform, minister, renew, build, and overwhelm the receiver as it pours into our lives. Yes, we’re so limited as the Church, but God–not at all. I think some of us forget the truth stated in Ephesians 2 and that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. However, it’s not too late! Our limited, broken, and surrendered selves may still yet receive this free gift of loving salvation in faith and then in turn, live free from condemnation by His grace. The bondage of lies that once held us–fear, pride, arrogance, performance, church habits, religious tradition, addiction, perfectionism, people pleasing, self-absorption, apathy, and the like–no longer need have permanent hold upon us.
We may live free!
Knowing this, how can we not swim in the deep end of gratefulness, bathe in this endless love, and joyfully splash in His grace? You will know genuine Christ followers by their love for God and for people–and it’s that kind of transforming love, in every form, that will change the world. Remember who and Who’s you are brothers and sisters–do not forget the price that has been paid for you to enjoy such grace. Please, let’s not take it for granted any longer–God wants to do more with our lives and with the Church than we have the capacity to imagine. Let’s trust Him together, leave the comfort of our boat, and step toward Him in faith–only by His grace and for the glory He alone deserves!