Many years ago, on a cross-country drive, I was struggling with a lot of concerns as to whether I could meet the challenging work that was confronting me. At one point I thought to myself, “I’ve been doing a lot of mental talking about these issues. God hasn’t been able to get a word in edgewise. It’s time to stop the mental chatter and listen to what God is saying to me.”
As I quieted my thought and entered into a place of prayer and openness to the divine Word, I approached a big tanker-type truck. It had bold letters across it. They said, “GRACE.” That was all. Not “Grace Hauling Co.” Just GRACE. I really had to smile. That was the message that I took with me – that God’s grace was sufficient to carry me forward in the challenging work I had been called to do, and I found it to be true.
But what is grace? A friend defines grace by its letters: God’s Relentless Affection Celebrating Everyone! When I saw the message on the truck, I felt God’s grace in that way – as relentless affection surrounding me and helping me celebrate what I was needing to accomplish rather than being concerned and fearful about it.
I find a verse from Romans so encouraging. Paul writes, “[W]here sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (5:20, New King James Version). Grace abounds! Right where you see a picture of sin abounding, of war, violence, abuse abounding, right there, grace abounds. God’s relentless affection abounds. It may be hard to see when you’re looking at the world from the standpoint of the material senses. But when you dive beneath the surface, you find grace there. Grace abounding there.
Strong’s Greek Lexicon defines grace as “the divine influence on the heart, and its reflection in the life.” You may feel that sin in some form has influenced your life – either someone else’s sin or your own. But grace – God’s unmerited, unconditional, relentless love – is surrounding you, and it abounds. Even if you’re not feeling it right now, God’s abounding grace is influencing your heart.
Divine grace is an infinite storehouse upon which we can draw freely. The amount of spiritual good to be gained is measured only by our capacity to receive. To embody grace is to manifest a humanity that is spiritually hospitable to Truth. But how often is our thought so filled with personal sense, mortal busyness, human wants and outlining, that it is totally inhospitable to God’s grace? Divine Truth pours comfort and inspiration into the receptive heart, to the exclusion of all else, when we learn to let God’s grace abound in us.
Christ Jesus’ actions are indisputable proof of divine grace and love. He did not punish. He did not condemn. He came to the rescue of humanity, not the judgment of it. For instance, the grace of God outshone the deformity of sin in the woman taken in adultery when Jesus refused to condemn her, but instead showed her that this was the first day of the rest of her sinless life. And when Judas came to betray his Master, do you remember how Jesus addressed him? “Friend” (Matthew 26:50). That is the epitome of grace.
I often ponder the question, What is grace asking of me right now? Is it to repent and open myself more to the divine influence that will wash away all sin? Is it to reach out to be the expression of grace for someone else – God’s relentless grace celebrating that individual? What a joy to know that grace abounds in God’s creation.