7. Grace

John 6:44 (FNV)
“The only ones who come to me have been drawn by my Father. These are the ones I will bring back to life at the end of all days.”

Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:

     “I have loved you with an everlasting love;
     I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

I’ve found very often that Grace is something that is present before you know that it’s there. And I write this with my feeble faith because somehow, I know this will be an essay pondering a gift that is here, yet it’s not only something that I haven’t earned but something that I can’t even quite see or imagine how it will appear in the moments to come. But I know that the desperate times of the worst of any day can be a birthplace of the greatest serendipity. I don’t know where it begins. I know that, like the Sovereignty of God, Grace is something that is part of who God is so much that I’m dreaming to think that I can put a lowly poet’s words to it. But it’s everywhere. It’s in the beginning…even in the darkest part of the beginning.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so, they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:6-9).

As a perfect foreshadowing of humanity, Adam and Eve hid. They hid, soon to find out that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a farce because who hides from God and thinks it will do any good? The One who saw them naked, before they realized that they were naked, was watching them as they were digging into pits of despair. And the question of God saying, “Where are you?” was, I think, a question more for Adam to think about than to answer. “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” the LORD God asked (vs 11). I think He knew well what the answer was. Maybe He asked that to humor man’s newfound wisdom. And as a briefing before they walked the long path of fallen-ness, He assured them that there would be a way back Home (vs 15). In their blindness little did they know that the way Home was so far out of their reach that the only and most helpful thing they could do is remember their nakedness. Little did they know God Himself was going to walk the space between in the damaged relationship.

A courtyard with unthreatening stones of forgiveness was waiting for the adulteress before the accusers had any idea they would accuse. Salvation for you, if not for this moment also, was spurred into action before you were even able to fathom this moment. And a thousand welcome home banquets are waiting for a thousand prodigal sons to come home even now as we think about what this sentence means. The love sonnet was being sung before it was even written. And not only before it was audible, but also before we even had ears to hear it, it was singing its love over us.

Paul writes, “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man [Adam], how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15). The damaged relationship healed through “one man, Jesus Christ” is the answer to the preveniently gracious promise, which was made in the beginning. History, waiting and anticipating, was fulfilled by the pivotal person whose presence in history not only changed the B.C. into A.D., but accentuated and extended grace “overflowing” to every adulteress and prodigal son to come. “Somehow” the Last Supper becomes someone’s first as they are stricken by the revelation that the pasty bread and the strong wine that they now hold in the Sunday morning communion service is something that stretches higher than the heavens and as far as the east is from the west. That the symbolism, no matter what the symbolism is, is not merely symbolism but love in its rawest form. Because a night as scandalous as it is beautiful, made its baffling joyfulness into history, and somehow, into your hand. That it was real hands that held the bread and wine and said “Remember me.” And those same hands, which were really torn, were then the “wineskin” that poured out (in more than symbolism) His healing love in the form of human blood. And whether you believe in “Symbolism” or the “Real Presence of Christ” in Communion, this “somehow” of a revelation makes the action deeper than the symbols because He’s letting you know that He’s really present in you.

So, the Lord’s grace is already here. Even as I write down these words, His love is singing over me (Zephaniah 3:17), and somehow, I know that same love is impregnating the very moment that you will be reading these words. So, then what shall we do with this moment? His grace is here. The greatest crime would be to not live this moment as if our life, as abundant or lacking as it may feel, depended on it. We’ll never see this moment again. The tragedy would be a hopeless loss of this moment, but even saying “goodbye” to this moment is hopeful because we know that His grace has saturated our next moment, and the one after that…making us feel like “more than conquerors” even though the sheer anticipation of it may be frightening. It makes our eyes well up with tears because this Grace shows us that this love is something that we cannot earn, it is way beyond our reach. And where we’re not sure if our tears are joy, sorrow, or pure adrenaline, we know that “somehow” this hidden grace contains a mercy and love that is more reckless than we could ever be in our humanity. The thing that matters most is given to us if we will receive it. How could it be? From my point of view, it’s impossible. But fortunately, the “one man, Jesus Christ,” who excels in making the impossible possible not only does impossible things but uses impossible people under impossible circumstances to achieve those impossible things, and to this simple soul, nothing demonstrates the impossible possible-ness of God better than this amazing grace.