“The world thirsts for grace. When grace descends, the world falls silent before it.” -Philip Yancey
In my adult years there is one element of my walk of faith that becomes increasingly significant to my story. It is non other than grace- so powerful and so redeeming. I have struggled to rationalize it, accept it, and comprehend the magnitude of what it really means to be affected and to affect with grace.
I have never tried to hide my faith and my belief system. However, I must admit that there were times I was embarrassed to associate myself as a man from a Christian church background only because of the damage we have made in the world in the name of Christianity. One needs only to look back on the last 500 years and note the massacres, the injustices, and condemnation stained with the blood of the innocent who dared to express themselves with honesty.
As a child, I heard the theme of grace over and over as my father recounted countless Bible stories to me making each one sound more magical than the last. It was a theme that was ingrained in me, and yet growing up in the church community, I rarely experienced the full measure of it. I attended high school at a legalistic Christian institution in the southern Bible belt. Life became a list of rules and harsh lessons to learn from. It seemed easy to look at other people’s mistakes and turn my nose up at them as if I was somehow exempt from making those same mistakes one day. I went to church to find acceptance but instead I found condemnation. The deep dark secrets of my heart became the load of guilt and dissolution that tormented me.
It wasn’t until I left my home to make my mark in the world that I came face to face with the phantoms of my heart. With each impulsive choice and addiction, I came face to face with my imperfect self. I looked into my own eyes in the reflection of a mirror and did not like what I saw. It was only at that state of being humbled and truthful for the first time, that I understood why grace could be so amazing. The grace that was extended to me by other imperfect friends like myself was healing. I really began to get a glimpse of the extent of grace which I needed and was so readily poured out to me by my God.
Recently, I finally picked up a copy of Philip Yancey’s “What So Amazing About Grace”, a book I highly recommend. I read through his numerous illustrations realizing that the world just can’t survive without grace. To really begin to extend that grace, I must first experience it. I suppose that’s why I find grace so transformational. I have received it in abundance, more than I will ever deserve. These days, I read, watch or experience a story and can’t help wanting to extend mercy to the villains because I see myself in them. I am another imperfect man who desperately needs the power of grace to lift me up. And when grace arrives, I am in awe,” and fall silent before it.”