I’ve been thinking about grace lately.
The word is everywhere. My friend named his daughter Grace. A singer sang Amazing Grace in a talent show last week. I read about a politician who fell from grace. The name of my wife’s new shampoo? You got it: Grace.
In sermons, in songs, in slogans. Grace, everywhere!
But do we get it?
When our daughter Sara was four years old, she burst into the house carrying a water-filled baggie in which swam a wide-eyed burst of sunshine. “Look what they gave us at the birthday party!” (Gee, thanks.) We dumped the pet into a fishbowl and gathered around to select a name. Sebastian won. He was the star of the family. We actually set the bowl on the dinner table so we could watch him swim while we ate. The ultimate fish dinner.
But then we got bored. Can’t fault Sebastian. He did everything expected of a family fish. He swam in circles and surfaced on cue to gobble fish food. He never jumped out of the bowl into the sink or demanded a seat on the couch. He spent his nights nestled amidst a green plant. Quiet. Novel. Contained.
Like grace? Small enough to fit on the cabinet, contain in the aquarium. Package it up and send it home with the kids. Dump it in a bowl and watch it swim. Never causes trouble or demands attention. Everyone wants a goldfish bowl of grace, right?
If you do, steer clear of Jesus Christ. He brings a wild grace. It comes at you like a fire hose: blasting, purging, cleansing. It can flush every last clod of doubt and death and infuse us with wonder and hope.
Grace does not promise to stop your snoring, turn your kids into valedictorians, or guarantee the correct lottery number. Grace doesn’t make you sexy, skinny, or clever. It doesn’t change what you see in the mirror. It changes how you see what you see.
Grace is everything Jesus. It uses five letters to describe six hours in which one carpenter hung on two timbers by three nails. Grace lives because he does, works because he works, and matters because he matters. To be saved by grace is to be saved by him; not by an idea, doctrine, creed, or church membership, but by Jesus himself who will sweep into heaven anyone who so much as gives him the nod.
Grace is God:
as Heart Surgeon, cracking open chests and extracting our crud and the desire to create it.
as Grand Marshall, leading his ever-swelling parade of has-beens and never-weres out of halfway houses and prisons into His palace.
as the Master who loves you enough to grab the nape of your neck and drag you out of blind alleys and dead-end streets.
as Chief Engineer, burrowing a tunnel through stone and sediment, unwilling to leave one soul in the cavern.
Grace placed a term limit on sin and danced a victory jig in a graveyard and pledges to do the same in yours, if you ask him.
Goldfish grace? Not on your life.
Goldfish grace happens on Sundays. God’s grace claims every tick of the clock.
Goldfish grace is only as good as you are. God’s grace is as good as he is.
Goldfish grace winks at sin. God’s grace nukes it.
Goldfish grace is a lucky charm crucifix on a necklace. God’s grace is a tiger in your heart.
Here’s a prayer that you and I discover God’s greatest news: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared…” (Titus 2:11). May it appear to you!