There are times in life when the grace of God is abundantly clear. Those are the times when I stop, overwhelmed by the way He works in my life. It is there that I begin to recognize the privilege knowing Him really is, both for me and for Him. I know that sounds perplexing, but it is true. God is gracious to us because He wants to be. He desires to be. He truly enjoys us and wants a relationship with us.
That is a great mystery too. If you have ever stood on the shore of the ocean or sat underneath the stars and had the sense of how small you are in comparison to everything else, it is mesmerizing. In fact, we were talking about this on the way to our Jr. High retreat last month. One of the Jr. High boys were wondering if aliens were real. This got us on the topic of the size of the universe and that who really knows what is all out there. Each of us can feel so insignificant in comparison and yet loved in the same instant. Yes, the universe is huge, but God is even bigger. Yes, there are so many parts to it that even our knowledge has not yet discovered. The amazing piece to that whole story is that God knows us individually. He knows everything about us and He still wants us. In fact, as much as I find delight in my children, I know God finds even greater delight in me. He knows us as the individual people that bear His image and walk with his fingerprints all over us. That is an overwhelming thought, isn’t it?
It gets even better because the Bible says that He loves us. This loves is not a superficial, measured love, but it exceeds anything we can fathom.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” – John 15:9
Can you even imagine how much love is in that statement? Incredible!
As a pastor, I am often asked to be a part of significant parts of people’s lives. I am asked to be there for both difficult moments and times of joy. What people don’t maybe realize is the amazing privilege that is to be invited into someone’s personal family event. I get to be there with someone and encourage, support and be an instrument of God’s grace to them. To think that God would use me to do this is remarkable. But, He does and He enables me to be where I need to be. God meets people where they are at, showering them with His grace.
This is the time of year when people start to prepare their taxes. Each year the process is frustrating for me because, for the last couple of years, the IRS has made mistakes on our taxes and I have had to go back and forth with them on it. A few years ago there was a specific problem that I knew they were wrong about. So, I called and talked to one person who passed me off to a ‘specialist’. The specialist read the form I had in front of me line by line. When he was done I asked him a question about this issue I was having. His reply to me was, “Oh, sorry, that’s as far as my training goes.” I had just spent an hour on the phone with a person who was not able to help me. Unbelievable!
Even more unbelievable are the many places we turn to find help in crisis. There are many unfulfilling places we look for the grace of God and never find it. The thought is that “maybe if I read one more book” or “maybe if I attend this seminar” then I will find relief from my issue. But God offers his sufficient grace to us because He loves us, not because He is obligated to do that. He walks with you right where you are, never once leaving you alone. With God you never get to a place where He says, “sorry, this is the end of my training.” He writes the training manual and takes care of us in our need.
I have walked the halls of Children’s hospital and have seen the many children who suffer from a multitude of diseases. I have seen very young kids who are battling cancer and it always stirs a sense of shock and humility in me. The shock comes from the realization of the number of people who struggle with such awful things for their children. The humility comes as I realize that this is a picture of humanity and the disease that has overtaken it with sin. To see this as a picture of that sin and feel a small portion of the compassion for humanity God has is humbling. It is humbling that in the mess there is hope. It is humbling that God would even care enough about each person in their mess to enter into it and provide a way out. It is also humbling that I, in such a simple way, get to be a part of the road someone travels on. No, I am not all that helpful. But, I am available and therefore able to be an instrument of God’s grace to someone. In what way will you know and experience God’s grace today?
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:4