The more you think about grace, the more amazing it becomes. Your mind cannot truly conceive it. It is something that must be taken in through the heart.
Grace is better than "the benefit of the doubt." When someone gives you the benefit of the doubt, they are choosing to turn a blind eye and allow for excuses why you act a certain way. A person giving you the benefit of the doubt is overlooking something you have said or done because they want to believe you're really a good person down deep in there somewhere. Grace, on the other hand, knows exactly the reasons you said something or behaved a certain way...and makes a covenant to love you and cover you anyway.
That's what Jesus did. That's who Jesus is.
Years ago, I used to drive down to Waco every Monday night during the school year with friends so we could attend Choice, a night of worship and teaching with Louie Giglio. Choice was the place I first learned what it meant to be a worshipper. It is where I first abandoned myself in worship to my Lord, so I have very fond memories of that place and that time in my life. One of the songs that came out of Choice was "Grace Flows Down." I haven't been able to find the original recording, but here's a version of Christy Nockels singing it in one of the Passion conferences: Grace Flows Down.
Amazing Grace - how sweet the sound
Amazing Love now flowing down
From hands and feet that were nailed to the tree
His grace flows down and covers me
And covers me
And covers me
And covers me
And covers me
I love that! It covers me...and covers me...and covers me. It never stops. I could spend hours and days thinking about that fact.
But, that brings me back to reality...and how grace works in my life. The concept and the experience are so moving, so powerful - but if I just receive grace, I have not fully grasped it. Once you have been freed by grace, you have a mandate to then free others by grace. "What do you mean?" you might be thinking. Well, I'm glad you asked.
Now that Tim and I have been married for several years, we know each other pretty well. I know that he leaves his clothes on the floor in our room, and he knows that I leave all my shoes in the front living room. He knows that cleaning is not my favorite thing, and I know that changing diapers is not his favorite thing. He knows that I spend too much time on the computer and I know that he does, too, sometimes. There are many other worse things, but you catch my drift. In marriage, there are so many little, piddly things that can eat at you. The clothes on the floor, the mess left behind, the way he says something to you repeatedly, the little STUFF. Then, when something big comes against you - financial trouble, an affair, a loss of a child, a death in the family - something really big, you have no reserves to deal with the situation. This is why GRACE is so absolutely important in your marriage and in your family relationships. It covers...and covers...and covers...and covers...and doesn't stop.
In case you didn't know, we're all really messed up! We have quirks, flaws and serious issues that we're not free from yet. But grace can cover over those things - and can actually transform us and set us free. When Jesus let His blood flow out of His mortal body, He saw every nasty sin from every person from all of time. He grabbed on to that burden of sin from all of humanity, carried it in His body and did away with it - so He could extend grace to us. He knew the reality and loved us anyway. He loved us enough to let it kill Him...so that we could be transformed through His grace.
When your husband is irking you by the same old pattern of behavior, grace can transform him. When you find yourself cursing under your breath that you have to pick up dirty laundry off the floor for the thousandth time, grace can transform you. When you feel like verbally lashing out at your husband for something stupid he just did, grace can transform the situation. When you respond out of grace, the atmosphere changes.
Grace knows what the reality is - that your husband leaves his underwear on the floor two feet in front of the hamper. But grace says, "I love you anyway," and picks it up for him. It covers him. And it keeps covering him.
Grace is not something you can muster up or clench your jaw tight enough to create. Grace is received - and then grace can be extended. Grace must dwell in you for grace to flow out of you. If you have given your life to Jesus, then Grace does dwell in you! Now you have the choice to let that grace flow or not. Nobody else on earth has been given the role of covering your husband like you. You have a precious and valuable role to play: grace-giver. The next time you feel your blood start to boil or your eye start to twitch like a crazy person, ask the Holy Spirit to stir up grace in you and let it flow out. Be the grace-giver the Lord designed you to be - and watch the amazing transformation.
...and grace flows down and covers me...