In Genesis 6:8, at the very first mention of G-d’s favour, Noah found grace… The word here is chan and means favour, acceptance. It is from the Hebrew root chanan which means to show favour and to be pitied. Sums it up nicely, eh?
In the New Testament, Luke 2:40, we are first introduced to grace as a description of the childhood of Jesus.
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of G-d was upon Him.
As a sidenote, do you think Mary was surprised at the behavior of child #2? I would imagine having a first born described as “filled with wisdom” is a tough act to follow! Do you ever feel sorry for Jesus’ siblings?
This “grace” is charis or that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech. The good will, loving-kindness, favour of G-d.
Since I do like to pay some small measure of attention to the pictographic meaning of Hebrew words (only as they support an existing definition) I thought it would be fun to mention that chan and chanan are spelled chet: tent wall/separation nun: son/heir/life/activity. Chanan is the root of the word chan and is spelled
Read from right to left, chet, nun, final nun…. Pictographic meaning? Interestingly, to me, I could easily see, as a descriptive definition: “The separation of the son’s life”.
So, bear with me while I muse on this. So, grace defined at it’s heart is what separates us into the life of the Son… Hm… Salvation? And then what is to exemplify our life? Charis. Joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech. The good will, loving-kindness, favour of G-d.
WIthout the first you cannot have the second. Grace is not something I can manufacture or drum up on my own. Grace is not a natural state for humankind. Nor is it something we easily offer to our fellow man.
Where am I going with this?
Grace is a gift. Every breath, every good thing in my life is Grace. Many of the hard things G-d has used to shape my life are also grace. Favor I don’t deserve that transforms my effort from merely subsistence to joy, pleasure, sweetness, charm…
I know that, I, Heidi, am a flawed woman who is selfish beyond her own ability to self-assess. A woman who, in her own strength, can proudly think she is capable of accomplishing Big Things. Even as a believer I am incompletely aware of how far I could wander from the Truth if I don’t maintain a tight rein on my focus.
There is no good thing in my life that I believe I am entitled to. A husband who loves me? According to earthly wisdom he should have kicked me to the curb eight years ago. He didn’t. We are crazy in love with each other. Healthy children? The odds are against that. Why us when so many have sick and hurting children? Grace. A home? A family? Friends? Fellowship?
All of these things G-d has provided for me and prove He has shown favour upon my unworthy little head.
Does this mean I walk around feeling second rate? As Mike Warnke said all those years ago… “I come before Your throne a worm. So step on me G-d and watch me squirm!” Good grief!! No!!!
I’m just a clay pot. With pieces missing. And He chooses to live within me, working out His salvation in me and shining His light through me. As I allow.
This life of a believer is a mystery to me. Peace when I should be filled with anxiety, joy when I should be incosolable, hope when darkness should consume me.
I don’t talk about my sin-nature as some esoteric, philosophical meandering. I understand to a large degree, although not completely, how capable of self-deception, anger, bitterness and vileness I am. I keep a tight rein on myself because if I don’t hold as many thoughts captive as I can I will end up in that desperate place again.
I need Grace to breathe, to function, to live. 16 years ago, on a grimy carpeted floor G-d reached down and took a heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. He transformed a dark, depressed, suicidal, demon-possessed little girl of 18 into His very own child. With all the access, joy, favour and love that a child receives from a Father who loves her. I will never work hard enough to deserve it. Nothing I can give Him will ever equal what He has given me. And that’s not why I work so hard trying to understand, to keep my eyes on Him. Not to deserve but to show devotion.
Keeping my eyes on Him, keeping my heart aware that He loves me, although I don’t deserve it and realizing that I walk in freedom not condemnation, hope not despair simply because He reached out to me is the foundation of my life.
Take nothing for granted. Through the efforts of my life I deserve hell. He didn’t reach out to me because I deserve it. He reached out to me because He saw that what He created was worth the effort of the Cross and because He wanted to show me a better way. He knew I didn’t deserve salvation, hope, family and all of His benefits. He didn’t care. He knew I never would. And when I looked His way, in fear and desperation, He was there.
And I love Him. To the level my pitiable little heart will let me. And whether I have a lot or a little, what He provides is a gift I don’t deserve and a privilege I can’t quite comprehend.
He is good. Even when I am not. He is faithful. Even when I am foolish. He is love. Even though I am so unlovely.
Baruch attah Adonai, Eloheynu melech ha olam… Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe.