grace (1)

Grace. This word sometimes overused and often misused and cheapened and ill-defined. Not only that, but a word frightening for what it implies, uncomfortable in its extravagance, easier kept at arm’s length since it’s beyond our control. When something undeserved is given freely, unconditionally, without merit, we hesitate. What’s the catch? Nothing in life is free, unconditional, without merit. We say we don’t deserve it, or we don’t need it, or we’re excluded from it, or if God only knew.

Grace is terrifying because we have no say; it’s independently given in spite of us. We can resist, refuse, act against it, live apart from it. But we can’t extinguish it, or reason with it, or convince it of our ineptitude. It doesn’t care. It simply is. And what can we do but receive it, aware we pay no price for it?  

What I love about grace is its impartiality. In fullness, in emptiness, its light is indiscriminate.

Grace manifests in fullness. For me, it’s like being in the mountains. Peaks, ridges, bowls, gullies, cliff faces, a landscape scattered with evergreen trees dark against the snow, the silence of the world speaking, and none of it deserved. The fact that I’m alive and breathing with a mind and a heart to know and enjoy and appreciate all I’ve been given. This is grace.

Grace manifests in emptiness. Disappointment and hopelessness, defeat and despair, can’t overshadow it. And in these darkest of places is often where it’s most vivid. When we’re falling, without much of anything left to hold on to, grace eases our fall. When we’re drifting in dark violent waters, hardly able to breathe, grace holds our head up. We’ve all had such days and seasons. Perhaps, in the moments we’re most consumed by our own weakness, we forget—Oh, I’m still here. I have another chance. I’m not finished yet. This is grace.

Grace shadows us, follows us, stays with us wherever we turn. We can’t escape it. When we’re deep in our own darkness of guilt and shame and fear and failure, it’s with us. When we’re disappointed and hopeless, it’s there. When we wonder if we’ve lost the faith we once had, it’s still present. When we wish life would’ve turned out differently, when we’re restless and unsettled, it reminds us of what we have.

If grace could tell us one thing, it might be this: “In fullness, in emptiness, I’m with you. Whether you think you need me or not, whether you ask for me or not, I’m the friend who never leaves. I’ve got you. You’re okay.”

Grace is never finished.

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