The longer I live this unraveling life the more I believe in grace. It’s defined as the “free and unmerited favor of God” in Bible terms. Free isn’t something we grasp easily because it doesn’t exist in our world. In fact, based on this definition only God is able to offer true grace. Our best efforts at extending grace are dependent upon our imperfect willingness, motivation, and presence. God’s grace is based on a perfection we can barely imagine, and without faith this unmerited favor sounds like hopeful wishing or some unfair version of a teacher’s pet.
I believed a version of undersold grace after my Dad unexpectedly died ten years ago. One day he and I were chatting in the kitchen while my ten month old daughter napped down the hall and seven ordinary, uneventful days later he was gone. He walked out of my apartment door and I had no idea that kitchen conversation was our last.
What kind of undersold grace did I buy?
I bought into a generic, watered down version of the real deal. I was 22 and if heaven was real then I was going to be okay getting in by a confession of faith but not really living it out day to day. In simple words, I could get by on my own if God wasn’t going to keep the people I loved and needed safe. I lived 17 years not knowing who Jesus was and could surely do a lifetime more believing He existed but minding my own business. It sounded like a win-win for both God and me since I clearly needed something He wasn’t willing to give.
What kind of grace do we really need?
This week a wise friend told me my heart is stapled to God’s. I smile at that image because she knows me well. A couple days later it occurred to me just how true it is. My heart is stapled to God’s. In His perfect grace and in my darkest moments, He gave me what I needed in that difficult season and every day since then, His presence. Only a severe and quick act of stapling my heart to His would’ve kept me where I needed to be, which was right by His side. That’s grace, friends. The deepest form of grace is God showing us our need for Him and Him opening up the eyes of our faith to see that He is and always has been with us. God’s biggest act of grace was sending Jesus to the cross and opening up a door for us to be in His presence eternally.
With my heart stapled to God’s the only way apart from him was to rip or tear myself away. That’s grace too. Like a child fighting to let go of the hand keeping her safe crossing a busy street, God held me close. In grace, He wouldn’t let me pull away from him without a struggle. Because of grace, I’m not that little kid fighting to let go of the hand that holds me strong. I’ve been in His presence enough to know the kind of safety and convenience God offers is exactly what I need. True peace and rest is in the depth of knowing I’m connected to the One who handles it all in grace and love.
It’s been over a decade since I’ve seen my Dad. The exact grace I needed the moment I learned of his passing was to know God was near, and the exact grace I need to today to miss my dad well is to know God is near. Presence is powerful whether it is in our temporary relationships of this world or with our eternal Heavenly Father now and forever. Stapling isn’t a procedure I’d ever willingly opt for, but it’s one I’m forever grateful for and that’s the power of grace.
1 Corinthians 5:10 MSG
But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste.