Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Never too far

I've been pondering the simple, unadorned truth this week of the depths of the grace of God.  I've been reading a couple of blog posts that make me think and rethink how great that fact is, and that there is never anyone alive today that is beyond the reach of that grace.  No matter if I think or anyone thinks that that person is beyond it.  

Grace, simply defined, is undeserved favour.  It's the free extension of the reward you can't possibly deserve (whereas mercy is not inflicting the punishment you do deserve).  

As Christians we think that we understand grace, because we've experienced it, at the moment of our conversion: from our darkness to His light, having received His beauty in exchange for our ashes.  However, the longer I'm a Christian in daily relationship with God, the more of an enigma grace really is to me.  It's unfathomable.  It exists outside of time because it comes from the One who exists outside of time, for He created it.  

It was God's grace, His superabundant grace that sent Jesus to the cross so that there would be a way for us to have intimate relationship with Him.  Christians all over the world accept this, the moment that the "before" ash-heap is transformed into the "after" flower garden.  But that same grace extends into the "after" picture.  It delves into the ashes and encourages the beauty, beauty we never thought existed, to come to the fore.  It encourages, uplifts, redeems, strengthens, and sustains us as we get to know Him more and more.  

Source of this photo is:
I've experienced that grace, first-hand.  

When I think of the life of emptiness and misery from which He rescued me when I was much younger (nearly 35 years ago now), I still mist over with gratitute.  Without Him, I would have died; I am sure of it.  I was drowning in the lifestyle I had chosen, a lifestyle of seeking the next thrill of conquest, the next power trip - just to mask the wounds inside that I dared not admit existed.  Without His grace, I would have ended up in a ditch somewhere, raped, beaten to death ... but thank God - when in a moment of clarity I cried out to Him - He reached down into my hopeless state and picked me up out of it.  And not only that, but He put up with my growing pains in Him - everything from the super-religious Bible-thumping fundamentalist to the social-drinking believer with the superiority complex, to the militant write-your-MP activist, to the super-needy clinging vine who scared people away with her intensity, to the wounded and bleeding victim that nobody wanted to hear whining about how hard she had it.  Throughout those stages, I still knew God's grace sustaining me, giving me a safe place to rest.  

And in 2009, when I reached out to Him in a courage of heart that is only borne of desperation, my life a shambles once more because of ... because of a lot of things which combined to propel me to my knees in powerlessness, His gentle grace reached in and began to heal those dry, barren places I'd hidden from Him (and from myself) throughout all those phases of my development as a believer.  His grace gave me the strength to finally be honest, to admit that I was just as broken now as I had been back in 1976, and that the only thing that had changed was my method of coping.  

I've discovered through my experience(s) that you can never go too far away, or be too injured or wicked for God's grace to touch, to heal, to transform.  That His grace has a staying power that goes beyond friendship, that forgives and keeps on forgiving to the nth degree, and that sparks hope and life where there once was despair and death.  

I'm so unbelievably grateful.

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