“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
I describe my life a series of near misses and redirections. I describe my life as a journey. I describe my life as an evolution. These are all things, which I’ve come to realize as truths, but that’s me, today, at age 41; however, me at age 21 saw these truths as not much more than churchy clichés; they rarely brought me comfort and oftentimes made me mad. The problem was that the word grace is easy to define but a difficult truth to understand let alone receive. Because I didn’t understand grace, I couldn’t fully receive the peace it offers. Every time I messed up, the devil reminded me that I wasn’t good enough. When troubles or disappointments came my way, the devil whispered in my ear that I didn’t love Jesus enough. The enemy stole my joy, at least for a little while, by deceiving me into thinking that I had to earn grace. But God had a plan. Tough break devil.
It was quite some time before I was ready to receive what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (2:8-9). And receiving what he wrote in the next verse, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (2:10) took even longer to embrace. I used to think of grace primarily within the context of being forgiven for my sins and getting into heaven, but what I would eventually come to understand is that grace is alive and hard at work inside of me. Grace doesn’t leave us as we are; grace is actively transforming us into the image of Christ. The devil didn’t make it easy then, and he definitely doesn’t make it easy now, but no matter the lie the enemy happens to be spinning, on any given day, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).
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