“Through Christ we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”- Romans 5:2
Grace is a precious commodity we all need to survive and thrive, yet it is quite rare to find in our daily relationships and activities. One will find a challenge in receiving grace on the local freeway, especially if you are changing lanes. A consumer is unlikely to find much wiggle (grace) space when they receive a credit card statement that includes an astronomical interest rate. For anyone who has had their email or account information compromised, I am guessing that the “hacker” didn’t take it easy on the inconvenience and/or damage they did. And even though taxes are due two days later this year (due to a holiday), the IRS is still going to demand what you owe.
The rarity of GRACE in our world makes it all the more desirable and all the more meaningful when it comes our way. One of the most pivotal moments as a young adult and pursuing the call to become a pastor was marked by a person showing me a grace beyond measure. As I have shared on occasion, I grew up with a great fear of public speaking. It was so debilitating, that while I was in high school, I would ditch class and take a “fail” grade on an assignment that required an oral report/presentation. The problem I faced in my early twenties is that the Lord had called me to become a pastor, a preacher of the Gospel, an ambassador of truth and hope. I was convinced that either the Lord had made a massive mistake or had a bizarre sense of humor. Either way, this heavenly calling did not initially deliver me from my mouth glued shut syndrome, so I often wrestled with my fear or withdrew from opportunities to share. Thankfully, I received a grace gift from a man named Don MacKenzie.
I was taking a class at the Bible college and the time came for a sermon presentation. I had already missed two classes that quarter, and the syllabus/college rules were clear that a third absent in a quarter would result in a lowering of a full letter grade. This created quite a quandary. I either needed to face my fear or take yet another fail (but I had a sense this moment was bigger than just a class grade). I wish I could say I stood tall, walked into the class, and delivered a riveting message. I ended up totally chickening out and sitting on the stairs just outside of the classroom. I sat for the entire three hours and watched as the students filed out, looking at me rather oddly, but choosing not to add to the awkwardness with a question. Finally, I saw Professor MacKenzie coming my way and I stood to meet him. With eyes watering I shared my fear of speaking and uncertainty of what to do next and what to do about the class. It was at that very moment, I received GRACE in a way that was tangible, powerful, and (as you can tell by the detail of this story) memorable. He totally understood, gave me a new date to deliver the message, and prayed for me to be encouraged and emboldened. I truly believe the Lord used Don MacKenzie to be a key instrument in my being delivered out of the panic of speaking and into the pulpit sharing Good News! That Thursday evening over twenty-five years ago I received the gift of grace in a manner that made a life-altering, power-depositing difference. That night for me Professor Don spoke words that echo the words of the Apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus from Acts 20:32, “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
As you think about the idea of the grace gifts that God has for each one of us, I want us to be encouraged to be a people who CHERISH and CELEBRATE the many ways grace is displayed, distributed, and deposited into our hearts. We may not get much grace on the 101 freeway, from Visa, or from our office supervisor, but we should believe for the grace of God to be sufficiently supplied and favorably flowing in the economy of God’s kingdom. May we never forget…
There is a God who gives grace for the places we fall short.
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”- Romans 5:21
There is a God who gives grace when we are weak or in great need.
“Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.”- Hebrews 4:16
There is a grace to speak and extend amongst one another.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”- Colossians 4:6
There is a grace to be on display when others are going through difficulty.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”- Ephesians 4:2