The rumble of distant thunder awakened me in the wee hours of the morning. It is one of those dreary winter-like days that sometimes carry over into spring. The kind where you just want to curl back up under the blanket and sleep or read a good book until the clouds decide to dry up and the sun peeks out to warm and brighten the day. I am giggling just thinking of some of our past segments on grace. Several of the days our topic was about struggles, trials and troubles; every one of the posts were written on bright, sunny days with not cloud in the sky and today when my thoughts are centered around the beauty of grace, it is a cloudy, chilly, almost dark day.
While I was pondering the idea of grace this morning, beauty was the first thing that came to my mind. I pictured in my mind’s eye the grace (effortlessness) of a swan gliding gracefully across a scenic sunny pond surrounded by gorgeous foliage. Next, I envisioned a graceful ballerina (beauty of form) dancing across a stage. In my imagination, I saw a weary family gathered around their table holding hands saying grace; showing gratitude for God’s blessings even after a difficult day. (Excellence or power granted by God) Then, I picture a guy who sees his coworker overwhelmed and behind; he offers a helping hand. (Help or favor given by on who is not obliged to) How about the husband, who after working all day comes home to see his wife exhausted from taking care of their home and children; thoughtfully he runs her a bath and takes over telling her, “go and get some rest.” (Good will; kindness) Then there is the person who responds with gentle answer when another goes off on them for no foreseeable reason. (Pardon) Finally, I see a student who misses curfew but is still allowed to use the family car… this time. (Reprieve) No matter how it appears, when grace shows up it is always beautiful.
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26 NLT
Our heavenly Father who uses our mess ups to teach us rather than punish us. (Protection and sanctification) Grace is always a gift given freely; it is never something that we deserve. If we have an attitude of entitlement, we will never fully see the greatness or beauty of the gift of grace when it shows up in our life. For example, we can choose to see the preciousness of a child showing their love by giving us a big smile and bloom from a weed; or we can grumble about now we will be sneezing for days. Their gift is grace; will we recognize it? Will we show grace in return? While those of us with allergies may not fully appreciate the gift, it is important we understand the great love behind the gift. In our passage, God gave the Law of Moses for the good of His people. It was a gift. His heart was to protect them and keep them safe. The prophets were His gift to remind the people of His statutes and show them the error of their ways and their disobedience. The people did not see it as a gift and rejected the prophets; took their lives. Jesus was God’s greatest gift and He was rejected by His own. Why does it see sometimes the greatest gifts are the ones we don’t recognize? In my head, I can hear my Pastor saying, “None of us will go to hell because of sin! If we go to hell, it will be because we rejected Jesus Christ as our Savior!” The truth is He paid the price and took all our sin upon Himself so that no one would ever have to face the punishment they deserved. We all have at some point fell short of God’s requirements, even the kindest and gentlest and the boldest and bravest. No one has met the standard of perfection Jesus met. We all need mercy and grace from God and from each other…Grace is beautiful, don’t you think?