dorothystewartblog

about writing and life and God

It’s all about grace

on February 13, 2013

I was invited to the christening of a friend’s baby, far away and many years ago. My friend’s name was Grace and I couldn’t believe that one of the hymns chosen was…. Amazing Grace!   It took all my self-control and love and respect for my friend not to get a severe attack of the giggles.

As we approach Valentine’s Day, it crosses my mind that you really can’t have love without grace. Graceless love is grabby and ugly – the teenage angst kind, the obsessive stalker kind, the possessive abuser kind, and their reciprocal: the ground-down stuck in the prison of those unloving and unhealthy relationships where the shackles are misnamed love.

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I’ve been reading Stephanie Cottam’s lovely book Ready or Not – He’s Coming! about the second coming of Jesus to bring His Bride home to the place He has prepared for her. Steph draws on her Jewish heritage to apply and explain the imagery and language of Jewish betrothal and marriage to this wonderful relationship we have with our Lord.

Filled with grace. Because God makes all the running.

He chooses us. He pursues us with love and grace – giving us full and real freedom to make our own choice about whether we’ll get involved with him or not. God offers us his love. No pushing, no manipulation, no emotional blackmail, no threats. Just love, in grace.

And he doesn’t turn from gentle lover to bully/tyrant or uninterested now the chase is over! He is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow: full of love and grace.

We may mess up the relationship. It’s very likely that we will. We might get distracted, sidetracked, led astray, lose trust, forget… He won’t bully us back like a sheepdog nipping at our heels to bring us back into line. Jesus told the story of the loving Father waiting, longing for his prodigal, wandering son to come home. And when the lad crawls back in shame and despair, there are no recriminations – instead open arms. No questions – instead lavish welcome and celebrations. This is how God is. He longs to welcome us back into his love, and if we turn back to him, his welcome is unmistakable and undeniable. And gracious.

It’s not a word you hear a lot these days – apart from, maybe, at church. But do we find graciousness in our churches? If we are aiming to follow Jesus, to become more like him, then maybe grace is something we might do well to practice. (And yes, I know I preach to myself first!)

It’s not easy in a 24/7 world where everyone seems to be too busy to be gracious. So let’s treasure every little drop of grace that we encounter and maybe try to sprinkle some on our own behalf.

Love, with grace. It’s quite a challenge. And could make a huge difference.

 

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