Grace is a word I have heard for most if not all of my life. I have read about it in the Scriptures and here are a few examples:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12
For sin shall no longer be your master because you are not under the law, but under grace.Romans 6:14
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”Numbers 6:24-26
These are just a few of the many verses that speak of grace. Not only have I read about grace, but I have also heard songs of grace as well. “Amazing Grace,” “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” “Saved by Grace” to name but a few. Modern praise and worship choruses also extol the grace of God. I especially like the words to Matt Maher’s “Your Grace is enough.” Naming favorite verses and songs about grace could be a time-consuming exercise. I have experienced grace in large and small ways, in the big and little events of life and everything in between. Grace comes when I know I need it as well as attending me in ways I may not have understood at the time. There is a grace beyond, saving, sanctifying and keeping grace, grace abounds on every side and at all times!
As I evaluate where I am in life, I realize there may be a category of grace that I have either overlooked or underestimated. I have spent some time thinking of what to call it, or what words to use to attempt to describe the kindness and mercy of God experienced in and through the less than pleasant experiences of life. Grit-grace was one term I wrestled with, the grace that keeps you moving forward when you can barely lift one foot after the other. Prevenient grace was John Wesley’s description of this grace that assists and helps me especially when I am unaware of its working. Grit and grace and His Unseen Hand at work in ways I was not always cognizant of have surely attended my days. The grace I wish to think about for a few minutes I have simply described as “circumstantial” grace. The intended meaning is not that there is not enough proof of this grace in our world and lives, but rather the kind of grace that leads us through the circumstances we experience.
As you reflect on your life, there is a mixture of joy and sorrow, highs and lows, good and bad. There are times when you can nearly feel the nudge of His providential push in one direction. There are other times when one’s walk with the Lord seems dry and barren. Our prayers seem hollow and God unresponsive to our cries. Try to reflect on all that has gone into helping you arrive at your present place. What are the things you remember? How our family, faith, talents, and gifts from God, as well as mentors, friends, colleagues, and coaches have been agents of grace? You may need to add your educational endeavors as well as practical experiences, Worship, prayer acts of service for others to name just a few.
Allow me to add one that I usually leave off of my list: circumstances. This past year has been filled for our house with “circumstances” that we would never have chosen for ourselves! It has been painful and at times somewhat overwhelming. Perspective is a proper place to gain insight. Now that I am through or at least moving through some of the recent “circumstances” I can testify to the fact, that some of the sweetest and most meaningful extensions of grace have been delivered to me in the midst of my circumstances. Whatever your view of the origin and meaning of circumstances, I have come to understand that they are certainly the raw material God uses to develop our character and to deepen our trust in Him. Learning to lean not on my own understanding and in all ways acknowledge Him has become to me more than a verse, it has become a foundational absolute in my life. You may argue as to the cause and purpose of circumstances this much I know: We all experience them, and God has shaped and fashioned me through the experiences. Would I like to have more “circumstances?” NO! Yet, I am thankful for the lessons learned, the grace extended, the comfort received and the tranforming power applied in my life. Mostly today I am thankful for God’s “circumstanial” grace that has tranformed things I did not like or desire into His tools of grace!
I am forever grateful!