What is Grace Anyway?

I once had a friend explain to me his “biblical” definition of grace as: receiving something good that we don’t really deserve. My response was something like, “hmm…,” then I kept quiet.

Honestly, I didn’t like his definition. I didn’t like to think of “deserving,” doing things or being a certain way in order to receive good things in our lives. I think that kind of thinking makes us stretch and strain to try to be something we’re not. We begin thinking, if only…, and trying to think of ways to be better so we can have more of anything, material possessions, experiences, relationships, etc. We think we have to change or become before the good will come to us, but in my opinion, that kind of thinking is personally destructive.

It also makes us overlook the common grace that occurs every day. What if, instead, we knew without a doubt that the grace of God follows us everywhere, in every situation, with everything we do, whether we “deserve it or not.”

busdriverRecently, I was driving my son to catch a bus back to his college campus. It was 3:45 am when my son, sitting in the passenger seat asked me, “Did you print my trip confirmation?”

His bus was supposed to leave at 4:00!

“Uh…, No,” I answered. “I thought you were taking care of that.” I pulled the car to the side of the road and began to turn around. “Wow, I don’t think I can make it home and back in time.” I turned the car back around. I was literally going in circles. “I don’t know what to do.” I said feeling paralyzed.

“Let’s just go there,” he said. “Maybe I can find someone with a phone who will let me look up my confirmation number.”

“Yep, that’s our only option,” I shifted my thinking to hopeful. I’d seen the bus drivers allow people who had their confirmations on their phones get on the bus, so maybe his idea would work.

At the bus stop, my son talked to the driver who had a Smartphone. He allowed him to use it to try to find his confirmation, but after about five minutes, my son couldn’t get the Internet to load.

“Just get on,” said the driver. “We’ll figure it out.”

Maybe grace is humans who have “been there,” who practice understanding, awareness and compassion. Maybe grace is the ability to see the good around us, to expect that goodness is the natural order of things. Maybe grace is the knowing that God NEVER leaves us alone, that if we simply ask, the good comes to us. Maybe grace happens when we can see God’s presence in everyone, everywhere. Maybe grace is just a compassionate bus driver.

What do you think?

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