I think the tendency to liken grace to Heinz 57 varieties could be valid. You know there really are 57+ varieties of Heinz products. Of course, the most famous is their ketchup. In years past a new plastic bottle emerged, just squeeze it and that tomato based, red sauce goes wherever you direct it. Sure the lid gets a little messy if you try to close it mid- squirt, and if starts to run low, just add some vinegar, shake it up and you’re good to go. Oh, and if that bottle starts making those noises, go ahead and chuckle. We all do!
Don’t we do that to grace? Tend to aim it where we want it, get messy with it, dilute it? Now before you come at me with theology based reasonings, critical assessments or even doctrinal correctness, I have to tell you a little something, just so you know, I receive grace on a daily basis. So please just go with me as I try to figure out what it looks like.
Come sit at my dining room table with me, would you? Seated? Good, now let’s say grace. “Thank you God for this food we eat, help Billy keep it on his plate and off his lap, look after Uncle Sam and Aunt Sue as they travel, and please keep PJ’s goldfish alive one more day, thank you. Aaaa-men.” Honestly, will I ever truly grasp the depth and width of this five letter word.
Webster’s dictionary defined grace in a variety of ways – 10 actually, but I want to see if I can find a glimpse of grace in this one to start: Clemency (mercy, leniency, pity, charity, forgiveness, compassion, kindness).
Who has ever exhibited greater measures of pity and compassion on people than Jesus Christ? He opened blind eyes, healed withered arms, gave barren women children, poured living water on dry souls, forgave adulterous women, restored the dead back to life (one was 4 days dead!), set the demoniac free, wept for a nation and forgave those who persecuted Him. Is this grace?
…… and I can’t get over the cashier who was rude or that loud, obviously agitated woman on her phone, standing in line right behind me. I get so annoyed at the three teen’s walking in the middle of the road like they own it, at that old man who just keeps talking, like, I have nowhere else to go and who on earth is letting their kid cry like that?!
Then you have this story in the Bible about a widow woman named Ruth, who put her reputation on the line, to go sleep at the feet of male relative. Why? Basically, she was saying, I am willing to risk everything I am, to bring honor to you as my kinsman redeemer (two amazing words right there, check them out). Well, what if people found out that she had slept at his feet …*insert big gasp*… all night? Her reputation would have been smeared, she would have been shunned on “principle” and forget about any hope she had for a good future. Is this grace?
Here’s another definition of grace: a special favor (benevolence, courtesy, service).
Boaz, the man whose feet Ruth had laid at, had given her protection as she worked in his fields. He shielded her from uninvited looks and ill-intended chatter. He provided safety for her, putting her among his female workers, in the best field. He gave her security in providing food and drink. He had heard of her. Her reputation of kindness and goodness, had preceded her presence. He was humbled by the simplicity of her actions. He defended her by rightfully doing everything he could to make her his bride. Now I’m seeing it. Can you?
Psalm 23 says ” The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want….” He refreshes, restores, gives no reason to fear evil, He protects, comforts, anoints in goodness, mercy and unfailing love all the days of ones life.
For the mother on her knees in the middle of the night, praying for a wayward child, He is there…listening, ready with His answers. At the wedding, the birthday party, He is there … celebrating right along with everyone else in the midst of the love and laughter. At the funeral, He is there…. grieving with those who mourn, comforting as only He can. He is there …. with the one alone in a kitchen, making provision, even as she is wondering where the next meal will come from. He is there … in the dark, with the abandoned child, preparing the heart of a family to take her in. He is there … laying with the desperate one, strung out on drugs, as He carves a way out of the mess. There it is. Grace in full view.
HE is grace. I have seen Him.
P.S. Read the Book of Ruth, it won’t take long, its only four chapters.