I recently saw a small debate on Facebook about grace. The essence: What is God’s grace? What does grace mean?
On Easter, God’s grace seems so very big. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ John 3:16. The Big Man Himself saves the world by letting His Son die. Granted Jesus rises again, but He suffers in a way that we can’t imagine. Besides the horrors of being nailed to a cross, which most of us will be spared in our lifetime, Jesus, being all-powerful, could have stopped it at any time. But He doesn’t. He dies so that we may live with God again.
As a mother, I’m not sure what it would take for me to give over my son, with no chance of escape, so that others may live. So that others may be forgiven.
Because on my own, I wouldn’t even chose to share my sandwich. And I see God’s grace in sharing my sandwich. Grace isn’t always so grand. God is in the moment when the choice is stark: to be the person I am fully capable of, yelling, angry and self-righteous, or be the calm, reasonable, tolerant person I long to be.
A few days ago, my 11 month old daughter awakens for the third time in three hours. Screaming. And I am so tired. All I want to do is sleep. But she needs me. And not to yell and stomp around like I want. She needs me to be a calm and gentle presence, which will help her back to sleep. And I see God’s grace in the moment I enter my daughter’s nursery with a soft face and gentle hands.
God’s grace is the offer to help another mother, whose hands are full with another child, get back to her home. Even when I have SO MUCH TO DO. Because it’s not natural for me to want to help. I’m VERY IMPORTANT, you know.
God’s grace is also when I don’t offer help. God doesn’t smite me (usually). God says: Okay Alex. What about now? Are you ready to help my children now? How about this phone call? From a friend offering to help you.
Even when I don’t deserve the help. When I’m twisted up in my world. A world that is MUCH BUSIER THAN YOURS. And my friends show up to help. And I believe it is God’s grace that shines through them.
In 2004, my small group in medical school was asked to describe each other. When it came to me, my group said: You’re nice. Had this been an Alex description a few years ago, I would have GONE OFF. (Which is probably why it wouldn’t have been a description a few years beforehand.) But this time I was pleased. I thought: I’M NICE! And I said: Thank you. (see how nice I am?)
That is also the grace of God. Over time those moments of God’s grace became days and weeks of kind actions. They became habits and desires. I want to be nice. I want to be helpful. The promise in Romans is that through our love for God, we want to be good. And all those moments of grace became me. (Except when I revert to the raging lunatic. Hi God! Any grace to go with my Easter sugar withdrawals?)
This cross-posted at The Whole Delivery.