‘But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 3:18
Very often the greatest gifts in our lives are the most unexpected. Those things that we never could have planned or crafted for ourselves, and yet seem perfectly designed for us. Recently I’ve been reading Wayne Simsic excellent book, The Inward Path to God – A prayer journey with St. Teresa of Avila. He writes that “one of the great revelations of the inward path for those who take the journey inwards is that everything is grace.” P163
It caused me to pause and take a longer look at grace.
Often it is said that we need grace because we are sinners, and we cannot obtain salvation without it. This is true, but there are more reasons for grace. If this is all grace is there would be no need for grace after we accepted Christ. Let’s take a closer look.
How does grace reveal itself? Grace does not mean everything is perfect or easy. Our grace journey is no walk in the park and many have stumbled after a promising start and never reach the end. It means we can have confidence in God – even when and especially if we don’t feel like it. It reveals itself in God’s unfailing love. If we really trust in God, if we have faith in Him, “What am I worried about?” It is a simple question, but not an easy one.
On our journey God offers a great deal of leeway, coaxing and inviting us but never overriding our free will. We are loved unconditionally but many times I have found myself incapable of responding to God’s generosity. At times it leaves me dumbfounded, unable to comprehend and slow to respond, yet God does not withhold His love. He graciously works through my human limitations.
Grace surprises us because it transforms us. Our life journey becomes something that we once thought impossible. The map we depended on before now become obsolete as we find ourselves walking through terrain we are unfamiliar with. We are led along pathways unknown, roads that are unmarked, sometimes even vegetation that is overgrown. We find ourselves making detours and, in some cases find ourselves totally lost. But there in the midst of this uncertainty there will be God. God is holding our hand as we walk.
Grace is God’s open door for us. One thing I have learnt and are still learning daily is the patience and unfailing love of God. God waits patiently at the centre of our lives, keeping an eye on the path, hoping to see us come around the corner. Many times, I’ve come to that corner and as I’ve looked into His face I see that He was listening for my familiar footsteps with his arms already extended to embrace me. There are just as many times when I have been unable to get to that corner and feel dejected and discouraged for not continuing, being distracted along the way. I missed the embrace that I so desperately required at that time. But I look up and, in my brokenness and humility I sense the Lord is near and so get up and push towards God’s outstretched arms.
Grace is freedom We must all walk along that path placing ourselves in the hands of God. Freedom in Christ is not freedom to sin. Freedom in Christ is freedom from sin. The freedom of God’s grace is the greatest joy that we can know. We cannot earn grace, merit grace, purchase grace, or force grace. It is free, or it is not grace. Saved by God’s own power and kept by grace. That is the Christian’s hope.
Grace is essential in this present age. Grace makes it possible to live a life of holiness, and to carry out our calling. While we were all made for union with God, we were also made to let others know of God’s existence. His grace helps us make that a reality.
Let’s return now to the phase – “everything is grace.” For me everything is grace. Wherever I am, in that exact place and moment, grace is with me, never distant, concerned about my well-being, available when I call out for help and even before I call out. In fact, God’s is so present that even when I have moved beyond goodness, beyond the blessed sphere of grace – even then grace pursues me. Grace reaches out to me, urging me: “Come back.”
Perhaps at some point in our lives, our hearts become softer and we begin to make a serious effort to uncover the love that is deep within us. At that moment, everything is grace.