Note: I’m still sharing posts from the archives while I work on my book and take time to enjoy summer. This post originally appeared March 30, 2016. I’m sharing it today because as summer winds down and we head into the back-to-school season (some of us, anyway), we can’t have too many reminders about God’s grace.
While reading A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman, at one point she mentions that she stumbled across a Bible verse about grace and was filled with questions about what, exactly, grace means. Naturally, this prompted me to ask the same question. It’s easy to think we know the answer, but it’s equally easy to get all mixed up about it and misunderstand its meaning.
After some thought and prayer, here’s what I think grace means–or at least, what it means to me.
I think grace means being released from focusing on our own goodness (or lack thereof) and focusing instead on God’s goodness. Or as Mary Ingalls put it:
“I mean I don’t believe we ought to think so much about ourselves, about whether we are bad or good,” Mary explained.
“But, my goodness! How can anybody be good without thinking about it?” Laura demanded.
“I don’t know, I guess we couldn’t,” Mary admitted. “I don’t know how to say what I mean very well. But – it isn’t so much thinking, as – as just knowing. Just being sure of the goodness of God.”–Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie (emphasis added)
Grace means moving toward righteousness and sanctification as best we can, but accepting that we can’t get there on our own, that we’ll never fully get there in this life, and resting in the knowledge that grace fills the gap for us.
It means accepting our humanity and frailty and weakness and knowing that that’s when He’s best able to manifest His strength and power within us.
It means freedom — not to sin, not to do whatever we want, but to not beat ourselves up when we stumble and fall. To know He’s there to catch us, set us back on our feet, and keep on loving us anyway.
It means that every single morning is a fresh start. Every time we sincerely repent is a clean slate and a new beginning.
Grace means we can relax. We don’t have to overthink this whole salvation thing. We don’t have to work our butts off to earn it. We don’t have to constantly examine ourselves to make sure we’re doing it right. We can be confident that the Holy Spirit will be sure to let us know when we’re doing it wrong and we need to course correct — and He’ll give us what we need to do so.
It means we don’t have to be perfect, because Jesus was perfect for us.
It means we have everything we need to be pleasing to God, and to be satisfied in Him.
May we all go forth in His grace today.