What is grace?
Simply put, grace is unmerited favor. It’s an outpouring of love and kindness when we deserve it the least. Today, I was on the receiving end of some much undeserved grace.
8:34 am. That was the time glaring back at me from the microwave clock this morning when I awoke to the sound of my roommate faintly whispering, “Hey, didn’t your final start at 8?” Yes, yes it did.
Panic immediately set in. I jumped out of bed faster than ever before and “got ready.” This consisted of taking out my retainer, throwing a flannel over my pajamas, and grabbing a pencil before sprinting out the door.
The previous night, I stayed up until approximately 3 am in an effort to continue studying for one of my five final exams. I knew I would be extremely tired, so I set seven alarms (yes, seven) to ensure a timely arise in the morning. I somehow managed to sleep through every single one of them.
My roommate, dressed in her pajamas and UGG boots, kindly (and extremely quickly) drove me to class so I wouldn’t have to wait for the bus. Needless to say, I was slightly flustered.
Missing one test may not seem like a big deal, but for me, there was A LOT riding on this final exam. Because the final counted for such a large percentage of my grade, not taking it would result failing the class. And if I failed this required class, I would not be able to apply to the college of journalism on time, which would push my graduation date back by an entire semester. All of these thoughts were rushing through my mind as we franticly sped to Park Hall.
I got to the building at the same time as a group of my classmates were exiting after already completing the exam. I ran up two flights of stairs, leaving me completely breathless. I then took a walk of shame to the front of the classroom, avoiding the disapproving stares of my more punctual peers, and timidly approached my professor.
As I quietly apologized, I expected to hear the worst. But what was I met with? Grace. Absolute grace. I did not deserve the kindness and compassion that was poured out on me. I deserved to be turned away for disrespecting my professor’s time by showing up almost an hour late to the most important day of class. But instead, he told me to calm down and not to worry. He reassuringly handed me a test and directed me to a seat.
Upon completing the exam, my professor approached me to make sure that I was okay. The man that I had rudely interrupted checked on and sympathized with me before wishing me a happy Christmas break. He was completely free of judgment and all I could do was thank him for being so understanding. The whole encounter left me astounded.
The unmerited kindness that I received from my professor is a great worldly example of the grace that is bestowed upon us by God on a daily basis.
As sinners, we don’t deserve favor and compassion when we do something wrong. Our sins deserve to be met with judgement and death.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Choosing to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior allows us to receive the gift of God’s grace and forgiveness for our sins. Ephesians 2:8 says “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.” This does not mean that we should use grace as an excuse to sin and ask for forgiveness later.
“Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1
When we have accepted salvation and choose to walk in daily relationship with Christ, we are not the same people that we once were. 2 Corinthians 5:17 illustrates this, saying “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and new things have come.” When we come to know God, our hearts are transformed and begin to reflect His. The temptation to sin will still exist, but the desire of our heart will be to honor and glorify God with our decisions.
We’re all going to mess up, it’s human nature. But how reassuring and wonderful to know that our God loves us in spite of wrongdoing and wants to meet us with grace and forgiveness!
The song “How He Loves” has a line that creates a very visual depiction of God’s abundant grace, “If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.”
It’s mind-boggling to think that this favor that we don’t even deserve to be given can be compared to something as vastly encompassing as an ocean. When we are at our absolute lowest, God continues to pour out His favor over us.
“But He gives us more grace.” James 4:6
I take comfort in knowing that my God, the Creator of the universe, is gracious and compassionate and loves me despite my failures.
“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, He saved me. Be at rest once more, oh my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Psalm 116:5-7
I’ve learned my lesson about staying up late and cramming before finals. It wasn’t the best idea, but I’m glad things happened the way they did. The behavior of my professor was an important reminder of how we should treat each other. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I plan to practice being a freer distributor of unmerited grace and encourage others to do the same! Even the smallest act of kindness and compassion can completely change the course of someone’s day.