Seventeen years. It took seventeen years for me to be obedient. Seventeen years to ask for forgiveness. Seventeen years is a long time. A long time for bitterness to grow.
I had wronged her. My friend. My roommate. My sorority sister. Not just an acquaintance. Rather a soul-sister, one who knew my heart.
At first, I blamed her. She was the reason I was angry. The reason bitterness had seeped into the corners of my emotions—taking root. But in reality, I was the one to blame. And for 17 years my feet were mired in the swamp-like muck found in Florida backyards.
Until now. Like a rose unfurling from its tight-wrapped petals, I unraveled. I finally reached toward obedience.
A private message on Facebook–Will you forgive me? I was wrong.
It had been so long. How would she respond? Would she forgive me? Would grace find its way into her heart?
The words on the screen stared at me—You had my forgiveness, love, but you had that many years ago.
And suddenly I was swimming in an ocean of grace.
When I try to wrap my mind around grace, the word mystifies me. To receive a gift when you are unworthy. To be handed rubies after a life spent stealing garnets. To be loved by a king when you are but a lowly pauper.
Who lives like this? Who gives gifts to the unworthy? Who turns to hand the thief even more? Who loves the unlovable?
My Jesus does. And no matter what I do, what I say, I could never earn the love He has in His heart to give. Because it’s free. And this is grace.
Grace is not an excuse to do what is wrong. Grace is the reason we should do what is right. So what should we do with this beautiful grace—this second chance—we each have been given?
Paul reveals this truth: “Working together with Him, we also appeal to you, ‘Don’t receive God’s grace in vain,’” 2 Corinthians 6:1.
The words shout at me—Don’t squander! Don’t waste! Don’t throw away the grace you’ve been given.
To waste grace is to let freedom slip through my fingers and allow the poison of bitterness to seep into my secret hiding places. Because holding tight to a grudge, harboring hate, grows the bitter seed that destroys our hearts. I squander the grace I have been freely given when I fail to give grace to others.
You see, when we begin to understand the free gift of grace in our own lives, it should pour out from the depths of our souls and splash into the lives of others.
Drenching another’s soul in grace drowns out the bitter pieces of our hearts. When we extend grace, we extinguish the fire bitterness burns. We dive into the cool deep. We slip beneath gentle waves and float in the languid waters.
Oh, my friends. This is no easy task. However, don’t mistake grace for justice. Grace does not make a wrong right. Still, to forgive some is to move a mountain. Trust me. I know. A thousand reasons not to forgive are whispered in my ears. My response is often, “But they don’t deserve my forgiveness…”
And then my stomach hits the ground. In that one statement is my profound answer to the question, why give grace to the very worst? Because I will never deserve God’s forgiveness. But I have it. And so do you. It is freely given.
That is Grace—floating in an ocean of His love when we’ve done nothing to earn His adoration.
So we have a monumental task. A requirement to ensure we never receive God’s grace vain. We are never promised an easy journey. Not once. The call to pour grace into the hearts of others may very well take every ounce of courage we have. Still, it is not a call to be ignored.
Who might be in need of your grace today? A friend? A parent? Your spouse? Your child? The rude stranger in the grocery store? Is there someone in your circle of influence who needs a swim in an ocean of grace? Because I promise, when we refuse to squander God’s grace in our lives, our oceans only deepen.
Privileged again to share the photography of my dear friend, Cheryl Dewees. Her stunning images of God’s creation can be found on her Etsy site, Point of View Creations, by clicking here.