My friend and fellow blogger Jules Middleton is guesting on the blog today. Jules is an award-winning blogger and minister-in-training in the Church Of England, and I know you’re going to love this post, on a topic close to my heart – grace.
I think we often talk a good game about God’s grace – we note how it is sufficient. Or abundant. Or amazing. But, what does it actually mean? Trying to suss out what grace is, is almost impossible, there are just too many answers, too many variations or possibilities. But we all have our own interpretations of grace, based on our own experiences of God, and that is so valuable.
I mean you can talk to someone all you like about God and they can put up objections and questions and arguments, but tell them your own story and it’s a different matter.
It’s much harder to dismiss someone’s personal experience, when you hear it from their own mouth.
And that’s the thing, our testimony gives us an opportunity to bring God’s grace into someone else’s life – what he has done for you, he can do for anyone.
I love St. Paul’s story for this. Perhaps one of the least deserving and least likely of people in the bible to encounter God. Once a murdering thug (my words 😉 ) so zealous for the Jewish faith that he went round persecuting and killing followers of Jesus. And what happened to him? He met Jesus. Did he deserve to meet with the living God? Not by our standards that’s for sure. And yet God reached out to him through Jesus, transformed his life and in doing so, the very future of the church.
Whilst my own story isn’t quite as dramatic as Paul’s, I was just as undeserving. When I met Jesus it was at a time when I had walked away from church, was looking into all kinds of other religions and spiritualities and had given up on him entirely. Perhaps that’s why then, perhaps God was just saying ‘right, she’s gone far enough this time!’.
I don’t know why I received anything of God’s grace. Much of my life had been spent in what you might call ‘ungodly ways’: drink, drugs, sex, you name it, I did it and I wasn’t ashamed of it. And yet he reached into my life, whispered sweet nothings into my ear (well he possibly shouted at times, I am pretty stubborn) and wooed me to him.
Why Did God Choose Me?
Life has not been the same since my conversion, and I often look back and wonder, ‘Why?’
Why did he choose me, why did he save me from a life of pain? Why did he save my marriage? Why did he give me peace, show me compassion or teach me how to love? And the biggest of all, which I still can’t understand: what amount of anything even approaching grace meant that he called me to serve him in ordained ministry?
Why did he choose me? Well, why not I guess. Because he loves me. Not that he loves me more than anyone else of course, but just the fact that he loves me at all is an amazing revelation to me, someone who has been well and truly broken, sinful and in the dark.
God’s grace is so much more than salvation. It’s on ongoing work in our lives, a continuing outpouring of who Jesus is and we get to be vessels of that grace too. Working for the church I find that every day, I couldn’t do what I do without his grace. When I recently was so drained emotionally that I had nothing to give, he was the one who gave me the words to preach. When dealing with a pastoral situation way out of my experience, he gave me comfort and strength. When leaving a job that I love and enjoy, he has given me another amazing opportunity to serve him in another church.
Why? Because he can. Because he wants to. Because he loves me. Because of his grace.
Everything is a gift from God, if we see things that way life is so much simpler. Like an unexpected bunch of flowers turning up on your doorstep, or an unknown windfall coming your way, God’s grace is just that, an unexpected blessing.
It’s very easy in our busy and individualistic society to focus just on ourselves. We are force fed the attitude of ‘you are worth it’, you deserve so much more, a bigger house, better car, the latest gadgets for the kids. The pressure pours onto us, in many cases we work longer hours just to earn more, to gain more, to have more.
But God’s grace just is. Is not deserved, it’s not earned, it’s not a right. God doesn’t distinguish, there is nothing we can do to earn his favour, his relationship, his grace.
It just is.
And it’s there for all of us, if we can be bothered to turn and see.
Jules Middleton is an award-winning blogger and ordinand in the Church of England (also known as #VicarSchool) who blogs about her & her family’s crazy life of following Jesus, and what that means for them.
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You can view our #synCREATE discussion on grace from yesterday’s live call here:
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