By Lisa Huddleston
Deadlines are great motivators. Without them, I’m not sure I’d ever accomplish anything. I would be much more likely to ponder and muse over quandaries and ideas than I would be to actually dig for the answers to my questions. But knowing that I had a discussion to lead on Wednesday night forced me into action. We were spending the month learning more about the items on our “Thankful For” lists, and this week’s topic was “grace.”
At first, I had thought it would be an easy subject to discuss. After all, it was near the top on all of our lists. We all knew the words to the song, “Amazing Grace,” and we all were glad to know that we could get something for nothing—even if we weren’t quite sure what we were getting. But, as I began to study and come up with an outline for our gathering, I realized that there was a lot I didn’t really get about grace.
For many years, I have clung to a certain verse in times of trouble. It first became real to me when my husband was very ill, and we were afraid that he might not survive. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7-9) were words that carried us through that time and became an integral part of my spiritual psyche. But they didn’t always bring me the comfort you might imagine. In fact, as we moved tentatively out of that season and Chuck’s health returned, the idea of the sufficiency of God’s grace began to haunt me. If those words were true, then why did I still feel such a gap in my life? Why did I so often feel as though I needed something more?
As I studied, I made some important discoveries. First, grace is an attribute of God. When you get God, you get grace. He is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10), and he “waits to be gracious to us” (Is. 30:18). Thankfully he is not waiting until we deserve his grace but until we will accept it (Rom. 5:6-8). Once we do, our budding faith gives rise to God’s grace. To borrow a line from my friend Dr. Paul Jackson, “When faith surfaces, grace is stirred.” Like a pebble dropped into a glassy pool of healing water, faith stirs our souls to receive God’s grace. God gives the grace—we only receive it. Then why the longing for more? I still ached for the answer as I pumped friends for knowledge, scoured my books, and searched through Scripture.
Finally, light pierced through my clouded musings. If I really believed what I knew to be the truth then something else must be the problem. There is no gap in his grace. Sufficient means “all I need.” Therefore, the lack must come from me. I know that this concept was probably clear to everyone but me; however, it was a radical idea when it dawned. And I hope it is the next handle to which I cling. I am not enough. Finally, I see my weakness, and I am praying that in it he will be strong!
Now as I ponder grace and study more to show myself approved, I will have a new prayer on my lips. Father, I thank you for your grace which is sufficient for me. Your grace on which I can stand assured (Rom. 5:2). I do believe. Help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24). Amen.