All of life is an experience: relationships with parents, hurtful words by friends, annoying jobs, sinful choices…these are a part of existence in a fallen world. But our experiences, as powerful as they may be, do not control our destiny. If we, as Christians, believe that these experiences are too great for God to overcome, we have effectively dethroned the King of Kings in our hearts.
Don’t think I’m demeaning our experiences or saying we should just “get over it.” I have experiences of my own that threaten to drown out my view of God. But that’s the problem. I’ve tended those wounds, bandaged them, stressed over them, even begged God to heal them, but never quite believed He would.
I believed I didn’t have the right to completely release them to God. That somehow I was responsible for part of my healing. I beat myself up, but it only increased the consciousness of my inadequacy. I desperately needed grace, but wasn’t sure I could accept it.
The gift of grace is realized in our lives to the degree it is accepted. It feels wrong to accept grace. We get scared we’ll be one of those who “sins more that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1). But here’s the thing: When you acknowledge that God became man for the express purpose of giving grace to sinners like you and me, it becomes much easier to accept the gift. And when you accept it, the last thing you want to do is sin against the Giver.
It may feel safe to take a “measure” of grace—just enough to make us feel confessed, but not enough to be indebted.
Just enough to acknowledge our sin, but not enough to free us from our past.
Just enough to get it off our chest, but not enough to get it out of our hearts.
So we live joyless and un-triumphant, never allowing the King to fully reign in our hearts, never knowing what Jesus meant when He said, “Fear not, for I have overcome!” (John 16:33)
Jesus’ birth was the birth of a King—not a king of earthly nations or military force, but a King of righteous and holy hearts. His power was not used just to humble world leaders, but to completely cleanse the dirty, wholly heal the broken and forever secure a place for us.
God took great measures to bring grace to earth that day. Will we accept it?
We don’t want to accept the gift of grace because we realize just how much we don’t deserve it.
But that’s the point.
Do you know why the woman in Luke 7 was confident to approach Jesus, perfume in hand, and pour out her tears and her living on His feet? She believed and accepted His grace. If she had let her past sins and insecurities wield power over her heart, she would have never dared set foot in that room. But the grace of God was her confidence, just as 1 John 5:14 says:
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us…
Jesus heard the cry of her heart, saying: “I tell you—her sins, which are many, are forgiven her.” (Luke 7:47).
Hebrews 4:16 says:
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We can approach the throne of our King with confidence in His grace. He knows our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15); He knows we will fail Him. But each time we approach His throne to confess our failings, to bring Him our burdens and relinquish the past, we renew the relationship He died to ensure.
Every day of our lives, every burden of our past and every struggle of today are part of a series of faith decisions: conscious choices to believe God is present and powerful. We can choose to live faithless, Christian in name only, or we can accept grace, believe God, and truly walk by faith and not by sight.