When I decided to write a blog on the topic of grace in our everyday lives, it was with no small amount of trepidation. I thought, if I’m writing this blog and then I lose it after a tough day at work, or I get frustrated with my family, or run out of patience with kindergarteners physically abusing me in their fight for my attention– won’t that ruin everything? Won’t that make my words seem rather, well, hypocritical?
So I start this journey by asking from you, my readers, to show me what I hope to show you. Grace.
I had originally planned to title this blog “Practical Grace” only to find when I typed it into wordpress that it was already taken. This roadblock, like most things that appear to be obstacles, turned out to be a blessing. Because the more I thought about it, the more I realized the inaccuracy of that phrase. I meant “practical grace” to mean putting grace into practice. Grace though, is rarely “practical.” By its nature, grace is impractical, unconventional, inconvenient and frankly quite messy.
Grace is the opposite of everything that our nature screams. It says forgive when we want to hold a grudge. It says trust when we would rather be suspicious. It says give when saving makes so much more sense. Grace means ignoring everything the world tells us is “right” and “fair.”
We have all heard the stories of extreme grace and forgiveness. I think of the Amish families that forgave the shooter who murdered their children. I think of the grace shown by the parents of Rachel Scott as the shared the story of their daughter who was killed at Columbine High School. I think of Jesus Christ, who even with his dying breaths, forgave his captors, tormentors, and mockers.
This kind of grace is what makes the world take notice and wonder. I would like to challenge each of us, and myself, to start exercising that kind of grace even when the stakes don’t seem quite as high. For me, this might mean that I keep smiling even as I clean grape jelly out of my hair when the kids I work with at school ask me to help them make their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (this is a true story). Maybe for you it’s stopping to listen to that person who always seems to have something to complain about.
Because a day may come when the stakes are higher than we can imagine, but I pray that if that day comes, our first response will not make any sense. I pray that in our interactions with those below we will be defined by a kind of extravagant grace that could only be from above.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)