Grace. It’s such an unassuming word. Just one syllable long. Yet, this small word carries with it an entire world of possibility. This tiny word contains a whole action-set that changed the world in an instant, centuries ago, and continues to change the world now one person at a time.
This summer, I chose The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning for our reading selection because we have nothing if we do not have Grace. We are a truly ragamuffins, poor-stricken and directionless, if we don’t have God’s grace to clothe us and His mercy to guide us.
In our ministry, I have seen men and women changed in seconds because they let God’s words wash over them. They let grace in and their pain and guilt out. I never grow tired of seeing this transformation take place. I also never grow weary of it happening in my own life either.
In my twenties, I was cocky salesman who traveled from port-to-port. I was good at what I did and believed the world owed me some pretty hefty favors. Then one day in walked a blond who somehow changed my life forever. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, but the joke was on me. This blond was the beginning of my own transformation.
It wasn’t her faith… but her lack of faith that suddenly brought God back to mind. I saw first hand what the belief in ‘graceless god’ can do to someone and subsequently how the uncovering of the true Grace of God can absolutely free someone.
The blond is now my wife, Jaclyn. Through her, I got to witness the journey from point A to point Z. I watched as a woman wracked by fear and distrust unraveled the mystery of God’s grace and her transformation eventually became mine. I watched as she finally accepted Christ and how that leap of trust and newfound courage of faith changed every aspect of her. How she talked, how she walked, even how she thought. Grace is truly a game-changer.
John R. Claypool’s sermon “Learning to Forgive Ourselves,” he says: “We all have shadows and skeletons in our backgrounds. But listen, there is something bigger in this world than we are and that something bigger is full of grace and mercy, patience and ingenuity. The moment the focus of your life shifts from your badness to His goodness and the question becomes not “What have I done?” but “What can He do?” release from remorse can happen; miracle of miracles, you can forgive yourself because you are forgiven, accept yourself because you are accepted, and begin to start building up the very places you once tore down. There is grace to help in every time of trouble. That grace is the secret to being the able to forgive ourselves. Trust it.”
I encourage you to put down your mantle of distrust, anger, sadness and despair and know that even in spite of the pain, discouragement, and unfaithfulness, God loves you and wants you as His very own. Even though you are burdened by too much “baggage,” you are forgiven. Let that forgiveness lighten your load and let it transform you so you can transform others.