Like you, there have been a number of moments when I have experienced God’s grace in my life. There were the narrow escapes from car accidents, the minor concussions in sports activities that were a bump away from major, or the flashes of insight into how to solve a difficult problem. All of us can point to ways that God has sustained and protected us by his grace.
But there is more to grace than moments of good fortune. One particularly powerful experience of grace happened for me forty years ago at a parish prayer meeting. I only went to see an old friend, but the Holy Spirit had other plans. That night, he filled me with his presence and love in a way that I had never known before. It was a moment of conversion for me, a moment of deep grace.
Then there was the time a few years later when I was at the same prayer meeting, and another man there stood up and said: “I want to give my whole life to the Lord.” At that moment, I realized that I couldn’t say the same thing—but I knew I should. There was a grace in that man’s words that led me to abandon my plans and devote myself to serving the Lord instead.
Another grace-filled moment came when I was giving a talk at a local parish. At the end of the talk, a priest who was a close friend told me: “You really don’t know what you’re talking about.” I, of course, got defensive, but after a few back and- forth exchanges, I knew he was right. I only had a superficial grasp of the gospel. I was relying on “street smarts,” not clear understanding. This little exchange prompted me to go back to school and pursue a doctorate in theology—even though I had four young children at the time! It wasn’t the priest himself who convinced me. He was the instrument, but grace was the catalyst that changed my mind and my heart.
I could go on. Suffice it to say that God’s grace has had a wonderful impact on my life time after time. I am sure it’s true for you. We can all point to our own moments of grace that prompted us to take a different path or change something in our lives.
It’s All by Grace. With all this grace, I still have a tendency to overestimate my contribution and underestimate how much God’s grace has done for me. What a mistake! That is why I always remind myself that it’s “By the grace of God I am what I am,” not by my effort (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Our God is gracious. He wants to give us so many blessings. He wants to give us his grace to sanctify us and shape us to become more like Christ. He wants to give us the grace to overcome our sinful ways. He wants to give us the grace to fulfill his dreams for our lives.
I hope this month’s articles will help you more clearly see how God’s grace is constantly at work in your life, your marriage, and your family.
May God bless you.