When I get real with myself, the thought of how much grace I need is overwhelming. Every careless thought, word, and action screams against me. It’s difficult to believe that God can forgive the harsh words I’ve said to my wife and kids, the evil thoughts I’ve had, and the selfish tendencies that plague me. It’s hard to receive grace for things like yelling at your wife on vacation in Hawaii or getting angry with your sweet adopted boys because they didn’t obey quickly enough. It’s the things in which I should “know better” that hurt the most. How could I be so selfish/stupid/mean/heartless? There is so much that I do sinfully that I need God’s grace for…
That’s not all, there is also the necessity for grace in the things I don’t do…but should. That’s another level altogether. I cower in fear when I ought to be bold, am often ashamed of the Gospel through which Jesus brazenly paid for my shame, and fail to care for those in need because I’m “busy.”
However overwhelming the weight of my own sin may have been, I knew that God didn’t want me to stay there, wading around in my own muck. I knew he wanted me to be free, light, and used for his purposes. The problem was that I didn’t feel the things I believed.
I used to think that grace was all about forgiving our badness and sinfulness. Although it is that, I now know it is so much more. In my early 20’s I began attending Sandals Church. I was full of Bible knowledge, fear, and insecurity. I knew God wanted to use me but I saw myself in a very small light, assuming that there wasn’t anything of much significance I could accomplish for his kingdom. When I finally got real with God, that is, when I began to see myself how he sees me, everything changed. I eventually believed he loved me, had good thoughts about me, saw me as his precious son, had plans for me, and had gifted me to do his work. That was all his grace toward me.
I remember how scary the process of being real was. One year on a staff retreat, the lady leading our discussion time called me out and said, “You aren’t aware of how you are feeling most of the time, and are afraid to reveal how you actually feel.” I was angry. Why? I wasn’t sure… but the idea of being exposed was so scary. I wrestled with that statement and realized that I was hiding. I was hiding from who I really was, how I really felt, and who I believed God wanted me to be. Instead, I was so focused on pleasing others, that most of my actions included doing and saying what I thought people expected of me instead of what was genuinely inside. I nervously shared some of these discoveries with people close to me and in that process of being real with others I discovered acceptance and grace. The power to be who God created me to be.
I learned something important through this. God’s grace empowers us to be ourselves and do his work because we can lift up our heads with confidence, knowing that he is for us and loves us as we are, not who we think others want us to be. That gives us strength to say and do things we may have otherwise felt ashamed or unworthy to do. That gives us the ability to obey out of love, rather than fear. As someone who struggles with fear, it was so life-giving. His grace is actually an enabler, empowering us to do that which we would have never been able to do, had we stayed in bondage.
This passage of scripture is transformative when we grab hold of it…
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
His power actually works best when we are weak, not strong. His grace helps us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and do the impossible for his kingdom. It is better for us to be weak, otherwise, we could never fully experience God’s power working in and through us. When we get real with others like Paul did in boasting about his weakness, we open up the door for God to work through us. That is what is so powerful about sharing how God’s grace has worked in our lives. We can help free others to experience his grace and unleash his power to work in their lives as well.
Reflect on this:
How do you respond when you feel weak? Do you cower in fear, rise up in pride, or run to Jesus?
In what ways have you received God’s grace? Do you find it easy or difficult to do so?
What is it that empowers you to grow?
How would TRULY receiving and believing God’s grace change the way you live?
What is something that you could be real (even if it’s scary) about that would deeply change your relationship with God?