Grace is this multi-faceted aspect of God that defines His nature and underlies everything He is and does. It is the engine that drives His purpose here on earth to help us move at Grace Speed.
For at least 50 years I thought grace was just something that happened at salvation. If it is only that, it would enough in and of itself. However, it’s even more awesome than that.
Grace for salvation
As a child, I stole candy from the grocery store (download the free chapter of my book to find out more), which made me realize I was the “wretch” the evangelist hollered about during revival services.
I knew God is perfect and no sin can enter heaven. I had knowingly committed sin. Therefore, I would not go to heaven unless I accepted Christ’s sacrifice for my failure.1
When I did that, the power of grace did something truly amazing. It transferred me from the column labeled “Eternal Separation from God” to “Forever with God.”
Just thinking about it is more than astounding; it is life-changing. However, when you are a child and never really knew anything different, it doesn’t seem so life-changing.
Grace the foundation
Still, grace opened the door for a close relationship with God, one where I could walk right into the throne room and share my deepest thoughts, fears and concerns with Him.
Out of His great love for me, He covered all my failures, past, present and future. He did this so I would willingly follow Him.
It was a foundational relationship of love. He loved me and He desired that I love Him in return. It was my choice to do so. His desire was that His grace would compel me to follow Him with all that I was and am.
Grace for failures
God knew my tendencies when I came to Him and still, He gave me grace that covered all my failures.2 If I were God, I wouldn’t do it that way.
I’d legislate that if you say you want to follow me, you would have to show by your actions that you fully follow me. If you didn’t, you’d be out.
He didn’t do that. I had made the initial response to Him and He still wanted my continued relationship to be my own choice. So He covered me in the midst of my struggles.
We tend to see God like we’re in a tug-of-war with Him. We are pulling against Him and He is pulling against us trying to pull us to His side.
Actually that’s not the picture at all. We are pulling against Him, but He is not pulling against us. His end of the rope is slack. He lets us play our own game until we are exhausted, spent, at the end of our rope.
Yet, He’s always there. Never judging. Never condemning. Always waiting for us to come home to Him.
Grace for reunion
Like the prodigal son, I looked around at the pigpen of my life and realized how much I needed the Father to set me right again. I dropped the end of the rope I’d been tugging on and He welcomed me back with open arms.3
As I stepped closer to Him, He ran to meet me. I was never really alone. He was just waiting for me to come home.
He knew I was going to something for comfort and sustenance that didn’t comfort and didn’t sustain.
He knew my eyes were so blinded by the struggle that I didn’t remember what it felt like to be in His arms.
Grace for the journey
He embraced me and I remembered. I remembered what it felt like to be close to Him, wrapped in His arms of comfort and love. It’s from this foundation that the real journey begins.
He pulls gifts from His huge storehouse. He lavishes them on me. Gifts like prophesy, faith, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, kindness, love, hospitality4 and so many, many more.
The particular, individualized gifts He chooses for me are not a reward, but a way to help me on the journey He knows I am now able to take; a journey toward my destiny.
Grace for destiny
God has big plans for me and for you. Plans for good and not disaster. Plans for a future and a hope.5 Grace is an integral part of that.
Without grace, as a believer my destiny would not be mine. If God legislated how I should act and what I should do in order to earn my future, I would be a robot to some kind of cosmic dictator.
A crucial part of God’s plan is choice. He wants a people who choose to love Him, not who are legislated to love.
Grace allows that choice to be mine. I am free to choose. Even though I belong to Him, I am not obligated to choose God’s ways and thereby, try to earn my right to enter into heaven. It doesn’t work that way.
Grace for propulsion
When I chose to follow God’s ways, admitted my weakness and willingly surrendered it to Him, I found God not only met me there, but walked with me. He actually propelled me forward into greater abundance than I’ve ever known before.
It doesn’t mean all my problems disappear and everything magically goes my way, what it does mean is I am more connected to God. In that connection, I find my purpose spelled out in ways that continually blow my mind.
Paul says it like this, “I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”6
Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church, Redding, CA, says, “Grace is the operational power of God to do what you couldn’t do one second before.”
The reason for that is really simple, God promotes His purposes on the earth. His purpose is for everyone to come to the knowledge of Christ. In His grace, He gives us the ability to complete our part of that task.
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.”7
We are the hands and feet of God here on earth. We carry out His ultimate purpose, which is to glorify Jesus Christ.
He gives us a choice. He covers us with His grace. He patiently waits for us to sow our wild oats. When we come to Him fully surrendered, He propels us forth into our destiny, which always aligns with His purposes.
And it’s only possible because we are moving in Him. We are moving at Grace Speed!
1 Colossians 1:20-22, NLT
2 Ephesians 1:7-8, CEB
3 Luke 15:20, NLT
4 Romans 12:6-8 NLT
5 Jeremiah 29:11, NLT
6 Ephesians 3:15-21, MSG
7 1 Peter 4:10-11, NAS
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.