I heard the song “Amazing Grace” the other day. No matter how many times I hear it, no matter what style it’s in, I love it every time. This time was no different.
This time I heard it while we were in the midst very unfortunate circumstances. We were arranging details for my father-in-law’s funeral.
My 83-year-old father-in-law lived a long and very full life when a stroke took him from us rather suddenly a couple of weeks ago. As I listened to the words of that song,
Amazing grace…how sweet the sound…that saved a wretch like me…
I once was lost…but now I’m found…was blind but now I see.
I couldn’t help but think how it was a beautiful picture of my father-in-law’s life. I only knew him 12 of his 83 years, and he didn’t like to talk much about his “old life.” From what I understand, it had been pretty rough. But he loved to talk about grace…about what Jesus had done for him.
As I sat at the funeral and heard people describe this man whom I had known a relatively short time, I realized that while it was God’s grace that changed his life–as it does any of us who choose to accept it–it hadn’t stopped there. It wasn’t simply a one-time gift. God’s grace began a work in him almost five decades ago that not only transformed him, it changed the course of his life and created a spiritual legacy for his children…a legacy that I am now a part of and from which my children will be blessed.
Having grown up in church, I’ve heard the word “grace” more times that I can count. I’ve heard it taught on, preached about, sung, and quoted. I have even sung the songs, quoted the verses, and taught the lessons myself, but often missed the point entirely.
It’s more than a good, Christian “buzz word.”
It’s more than a beautiful girl’s name.
It’s more than a nice song to sing in church and at funerals.
It’s more than a word to describe things that are lovely and elegant.
It is God showing me favor in spite of what I deserve (which is definitely not His favor or His blessing.) It is God sending His Son to take my punishment (death) so that I can live in relationship with Him. It is knowing I have nothing to offer Him and realizing He chooses to give me so much anyway.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” –Ephesians 2:8
It’s the beauty of a changed life, the manifestation of God’s power to take the worn-out and broken-down and replace it with life, beauty, and blessing.
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
But it’s even more than that, because God’s grace doesn’t stop when we are saved. It’s a daily, sometimes moment-by-moment gift from God when we fall, when we struggle, when we fail, when we are overwhelmed.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. –Hebrews 4:16
It’s the power to go on when we are weary, weak, and simply worn out.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” –2 Corinthians 12:9
It’s a one-time act and a lifetime of gifts.
My father-in-law made a choice many years ago. He chose to accept God’s grace, and then to continue to walk in it. He didn’t do it perfectly; none of us do. That choice not only transformed his own life, it overflowed from him and impacted those around him.
I’m so thankful for God’s grace that has given me salvation and eternal life in Him. And I’m learning to recognize the day-to-day gifts of His grace: the strength to face struggles, trials, frustrations, and uncertainties–not in my own strength, but in His strength (another gift of His grace). I strive to remember it’s an ongoing, moment-by-moment grace…enough for today and every day.
Maybe, if I can just remember that, some of His grace will overflow from me and touch someone else.