According to Merriam-Webster.com, GRACE means
“unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification”.
I spent my early adult years in an environment where “great” men and women of God were placed on pedestals. We were instructed to admire the power of God on their lives. We were told that if we had regular prayer and Bible reading time, obeyed the rules, and conformed to the doctrine they taught…then we would have this same power of God on our own lives. We didn’t have to do all those things to earn our salvation, but we had to do them to have God’s blessings.
Several months ago, I rediscovered some journals from these years. I was amazed at how uptight I was. I felt like God would punish me if I missed a day of Bible reading. I had the perception that God would punish me with poor grades if I did not pray about each test. I even apologized to God for forgetting a task I needed to do. Wow. No wonder I was so serious and had no time for fun…I was spending all my energy trying to earn something I couldn’t.
Over time, I saw the danger of this legalistic view of grace. God’s grace is not just for the moment when He brings us into His family and cleans up our hearts (what Christians often refer to as salvation). God’s grace is also about bringing me closer to Him, giving me power to live as His child, and about God understanding my shortcomings.
After watching War Room, I really hit my knees in prayer. I experienced prayer like I never had before. I didn’t have to earn this amazing sense of God’s power. I didn’t have to beg and plead for His presence. I didn’t have to be religiously correct to soak in the amazing messages from God’s Word. It just happened. I asked; God showed up.
Several weeks and a few blogs later. I felt like I had failed God again. Those ridiculous rules about earning God’s grace and power crept back in. I hadn’t been as consistent about making time for prayer and Bible study. It was there, but life had really gotten in the way. I felt myself slipping into shame and defeat. I had failed as a prayer-warrior. I had let busy-ness get in the way of my time with God.
Then I realized something very important:
Since the beginning of time, Jesus knew how many times I would fail Him.
He knew I would let other things crowd Him out…but He gave me all the promises in the Bible anyways.
He knew I would fail Him over and over…but He still says I am His child.
He knew that I would take 1000 mistakes to get it right…but He still told me I could use my mustard-seed-sized faith to move mountains.
While Jesus knew I would sin over and over, He doesn’t excuse my sins. In fact, He demands that I turn from them and ask for forgiveness. BUT, once I ask Him for forgiveness, He forgets that sin forever. He doesn’t hold a grudge against me and demand that I re-earn His favor…something which I could never earn anyways.
If you have slipped away from Bible study and prayer (a little OR a lot),
If you have messed up in ways that make you cringe with shame,
If you have sinned in any way, you simply need to ask for forgiveness, accept the forgiveness, and move on.
God’s grace is not attracted to your “good works”. It is attracted to our humility and repentance.
So pray on. Don’t let your shortcomings hold you back when God has already forgiven you. Approach your ”war room” with confidence, knowing that Jesus Himself paid the price for you to be there.
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” —Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT
Verses for Further Study: