Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:3-10, NIV)
It started as I've so often seen it of late. I was talking on the phone with a good friend of mine. He's been struggling of late with some issues and trying to listen to what God is saying, trying to grow based on what he is learning. During this particular conversation, while we were talking about the common struggles we have, always wanting some predictable set of steps to achieve a specific outcome and get us out of our current state of discomfort. In the course of the conversation, he asked me to pray that God would give him "a truckload of grace" to deal with it all. And right there is when it dawned on me.
Many of us, and I'm including myself here, tend to think of grace in terms of quantity. I've prayed that God would grant "an extra measure of grace" to somebody having trouble as I'm sure you have. I've asked for "more grace" and sung songs that say the same thing. But as I talked with my friend after he'd made his statement, I began thinking differently. God doesn't increase or decrease the grace offered to us based on some circumstance or prayer. It is already provided beyond measure ("lavished" as today's passage notes) and we have access to all of it all the time. Perhaps what we really should be asking for in these cases is that God reveal the depth and wonder of His grace to us in a new and fresh way.
If we consider God's answer to Paul, when the apostle asked for his physical infirmity to be removed, is right along this line of thinking. Paul practically begged God a total of three times to be relieved of it, but God's clear and supportive answer was something else - grace. God's grace, in its immeasurable wonder was "sufficient" to sustain Paul through this current issue and through everything he was to face in the future. Paul didn't have to ask for God to "fill up his grace tank" again. No, that same grace that knocked him down on the road to Damascus, that same grace that he preached across Asia and Europe, that same grace that would be offered in lieu of healing would constantly wash over his soul and keep him. When you think of it that way, it's like trying to measure the ocean with a one-cup scoop.
My travels on the Crooked Path will take me through hills and valleys, plain paths and rocky ones, times of struggle and times of quiet. As I've said all along, God didn't promise and easy journey, He just promised to be right there with us, watching and guiding. His grace, always available beyond any possible human measure, comforts and sustains me in ways I may never quite comprehend. And while I may think about "getting more grace" at times, the reality is that God has made complete provision once and for all in Jesus. When I focus on that, I know that a "truckload of grace" isn't the point at all. It's the One who gave the grace in the first place.
- Are you feeling a little "grace deficiency" right now? Is it perhaps because you can't see just how much is available to you every minute of every day?
- When you see God's grace, do you find it sufficient in the way it was presented to Paul? If so, why do you go seeking for "more" instead of basking in the glow of the grace given?
- Are you constantly struggling, feeling like you just can't keep up with it all? Are you willing to sit back and let grace wash over you and experience the completeness of what God has provided?