I had been reading Yancy’s What’s So Amazing About Grace earlier in the day and was struck by the disarming sweetness of it.Yancy says, “Grace comes from outside, as a gift and not as an achievement.” Yet I can get caught in thinking and doing, assuming I somehow can earn God’s favor. While my theology affirms the doctrine of unmerited favor, my life too often shows something very different. I fall into the Satan-made trap of performance, somehow trying to earn that which God has already conferred on me through the finished work of His Son.
So what traps snap upon me most? Oh, I can fall into any of the ones that the world tantalizes me with, whether brains, bucks, brawn, or beauty. A look at various people from around the globe demonstrates the universality of trying to earn grace. Ben Franklin kept a book of 13 virtues that he tried — unsuccessfully — to keep all his life. In Haiti, people cut themselves and then wallow through a mud pit until they can reach a cross stationed at the end of the pit.
Thus, my attempts to understand and appropriate grace create a real struggle in everyday life. Experiencing grace in a church setting, an antithetical as it seems, can prove very difficult. I find myself agreeing with Yancy when he describes finding grace in music, the beauty of the creation, and in love. As I sat on the back porch and watched my granddaughter raise her hands and simply take in the joy in her backyard, I think I took a closer step to grasping God’s grace toward me. Just receive.