After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.
(John 10:4, NLT)
Friend to Friend
As a child, I can still see my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Cash, as she wrote the word “grace” on the classroom chalkboard. “What does the word “grace” mean to you?” she quietly asked. Even though the word was somewhat familiar, I had no clue what “grace” actually meant. Mrs. Cash simply smiled at my best friend, Katrina, who raised her hand to explain that “grace” was a girl’s name. Evidently, that was not the correct answer.
The pastor of that small, country church I attended often used “grace” in his sermons and many of the songs we sang at church contained “grace” in their lyrics. I had heard it and sung about it, but when it came right down to it, grace was ambiguous to me at best. I am afraid that is the case with many of us today. If we are not personally experiencing, walking in and serving through the grace of God, our efforts and works are futile and empty.
Mrs. Cash simply turned once again to the chalkboard and wrote this acrostic that is now inscribed in my bible and my heart:
All that God is – all that God has – is available to us every minute of every day. With every breath we take and every beat of our heart, His riches are ours because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. Those infinite riches are credited to our life account, deposited there by Jesus Christ. The supply of grace is eternal, beginning the moment we surrender to God.
God is our provider. The word “provider” comes from two Latin words, “pro” which means “before” and “video” which means, “to see”. In other words, God will see to every need beforehand. The Good Shepherd meets every need of every sheep, every day in every way. That’s grace.
John 10:4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice. (NLT)
The Shepherd is always ahead of his sheep, out in front, which means that any attack upon the sheep has to consider him first. What peace and security we can have knowing that God has gone before us through every valley, across each raging river of life making the crooked paths straight, hammering down every mountain before us. He knows what tomorrow holds and will give us everything we need to face it. When we begin to understand and walk in the truth that God monitors every circumstance, we will also begin to understand and walk in grace. In fact, we need to filter life through God’s grace.
When I graduated from college, I worked as a summer intern for a music and youth pastor in Grand Prairie, Texas. That summer changed the direction of my life as I experienced in a new way, the power of God working in and through me. One Sunday morning, the pastor called me into his office to let me know that the music and youth director with whom I worked was being fired immediately. I was devastated. Not only had this man and his family become precious friends, but his leaving meant that I was without a job and a church I had grown to love. In the shaky days ahead, I experienced the reality that God’s grace really does cover it all. Within weeks, God moved me to a church in Dallas where I met an extraordinary young man named Dan Southerland. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for the grace filled trial that brought Dan and me together.
God’s “mercy” and “loving kindness” provide all kinds of experiences. Some we call good. Some we call bad. But each one comes through a checkpoint of grace before it touches our lives, transforming us into trophies of grace. Mercy is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. Justice is when we get what we deserve, but grace is when we get what we don’t deserve.
You may find yourself in a frightening place filled with darkness and doubt. Your fragile heart may be wondering if God even knows or cares where you are or what you need. Let me assure you – He does. Don’t think for a minute just that because you cannot see the hand of God or sense His presence, it means that He is not working. Nothing could be further from the truth. The grace of God is always at work in our lives. You can count on it!
Father, thank You for Your grace that covers me. I cannot comprehend exactly what grace is, but I choose to accept it as Your precious gift to me. I may not always be able to hear Your voice or understand what You are doing in my life, but I praise You! Help me learn how to embrace my pain and use it for power in my life.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What does grace mean to you? Think about the pain you are dealing with. Surrender it to God and ask Him to cover it with His grace.
More from the Girlfriends
What does it mean to trust God – I mean really trust Him? Mary’s book, 10-Day Trust Adventure, addresses every decision you make in every area of your life – including your past and future, your family and friendships, your finances and work – and how to make those decisions as you step out in faith and really trust God.