What is grace? By now most of us have heard the short and very inclusive answer, “Grace is getting what we do not deserve!” Certainly this is a great definition, but lately, as I experience and live in this place of the Father’s love, I find myself wanting to say so much more. In fact, maybe I could say that His grace is His love and that His love is His grace. My heart longs to express this grace in terms that not only I can better understand but also in ways that I can share with others. This grace is there for all of us. Yes, it is for you as well!
For me, grace is the Father’s smile when I expected a frown. It is a hug when I expected a spanking. It is a tender voice when I expected anger. This grace is the “so” in John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved … .” Grace is the heart of Almighty God, so overflowing with love that is poured out upon humankind. God does not love; He is love! I often say with the greatest of respect that the Father is so full of Himself (love) that He cannot help but lavish it on the people He has created (I John 3:1). That includes you and me!
The Father’s love, from which His grace abundantly flows, offers so much of that about which we understand very little. This love/grace offers us the forgiveness of sin as well as freedom from the guilt and effects of our sin. It gives us hope instead of despair, joy instead of sadness, acceptance instead of rejection. It gives purpose and value rather than emptiness, and destiny in the place of loneliness. This love and grace is the reason to get up every morning, and it provides a peace that allows us to sleep at night!
When Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15 to “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts… ,” I believe he did so believing peace would be part and parcel of how we understand our Daddy’s love. For what child would ever have anything to worry about if his or her Father were God? Well, that is exactly what we are—children of the living God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Because of our relationship with Him, we have a great deal of privilege and, yes, responsibility.
When we really begin to understand and experience this love of the Father in our lives, we will not be able to contain it, and it will flow to those around us. This is my prayer: that the love and grace that already flow within us will become an everyday outflow of our lives. Jesus said that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:34- 40). However, many times we do not even love ourselves. And that is why we oftentimes have problems with others: We don’t love them like we don’t love ourselves!
The bottom line is that most of us are unhappy with what we look like and who we have become. Just think of the billions of dollars we spend every year in the alone trying to make ourselves look and feel different. We try to add this, remove that. We realign one part even as we make other areas look like God simply never intended them to look. We find ourselves taking pills to get up in the morning and pills to go to sleep at night. Many people spend more time looking into a mirror than they do looking into the Word of God. We are enslaved to substances we thought would make us feel better, however briefly. These are some of the ways we try to ease the pain of an unfulfilled, unhappy life and the lack of love we have for ourselves.
It is only when we experience a revelation of the Father’s love that we are really able to love ourselves. We all long to understand and experience His love. When we do, it starts a process of emotional healing that brings restoration to areas in our lives that have been wounded and damaged. As we experience these healings and the changes they bring about, we find ourselves not only better able to accept and love ourselves but also better able to genuinely love others. Suddenly we find that things that once bothered and controlled us are no longer a threat. We find ourselves much better able to cope with whatever life sends our way.
At times we fail, make mistakes, come short, or outright sin. The writer of Hebrews even warns us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1). Unfortunately, the prevailing thought seems to be that when we do fail, we are then “failures”—failures whom God is ready to punish severely. Many of us wrestle with an image of God as some big, mean, unhappy disciplinarian with a lightning bolt in one hand and a vial of some deadly disease in the other who is just waiting for us to mess up.
My dear brother and sister, I want you to know that there is forgiveness and cleansing for your sin. You do not have to live under the cloak of shame and guilt forever. The Father is on a search-and-rescue mission looking for hearts just like yours that have been held captive by the lies that failure brings. He wants to set you free and to pour out His grace in your life! I must warn you, however, of one unfortunate truth. The fact is that His grace is very offensive—certainly not to its recipient but to all those who believe that sin disqualifies one from experiencing anything good that even remotely hints of a blessing. For those folks, you will never repent enough, cry enough, pay enough, or be good enough to receive God’s favor. Imagine the offense when you do!
May you find the peace and rest you so desperately desire and need in your life. Remember, His grace is sufficient for you. Come to the Father, you Daddy, today and begin to experience Him in ways you have only dreamed possible.