Making Grace Discoveries

By Dale Holloway

As a child, one of my favorite hymns was “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.” The words of the chorus have grown increasingly meaningful to me through the years.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
     Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
     Grace that is greater than all my sin.
Finite Minds
Of all the great doctrines of the church, perhaps the doctrine of God’s grace is the least understood and the one most taken for granted. Maybe the reason we struggle in defining God’s grace is the same reason our attempts to define God’s attributes ultimately fall short: the finite mind cannot fully comprehend the infinite. Our minds have a limit; He has none. So if I say God is love, my understanding of what that means is limited to what I understand about love—from a human perspective. That is not necessarily wrong, just incomplete.

If we cannot define God’s grace adequately, does that mean we cannot understand it? Of course not. The beauty of Christianity is that it is experiential. Through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we can experience God’s grace on a personal level. Then we begin a lifelong journey of grace discoveries—experiences that define our understanding of grace.

A Grace Discovery
One of my earlier grace discoveries occurred when, as a ten-year-old boy, I visited my friendly neighbor, Mr. Bancroft. Mr. Bancroft had one of the largest collections of Native American relics you could imagine. During that visit, while Mr. Bancroft was looking in another direction, I put one of his many arrowheads in my pocket. At the dinner table that evening, I proudly displayed my new acquisition to the rest of the family and lied as I explained that I had found it in the driveway. My father wasn’t convinced.

The next day, Dad called me to the basement. That was never a good sign. He wanted to know where I had gotten the arrowhead. I mistakenly stuck with my story, and paid for it with a few well-placed swats on my behind. Soon the truth was out, followed by the really hard part: I had to go tell Mr. Bancroft what I had done and ask forgiveness.

When I returned the arrowhead and told my kindly neighbor what I had done, he immediately forgave me. What a relief! What happened next, though, was incredible. He gave the arrowhead back to me, as a gift. That was my grace discovery. I knew it wasn’t mine, and I knew I didn’t deserve it. It was an unmerited gift, given out of love.

Infinite Grace
It took a few years for me to process that childhood memory. When I did, I realized on that day I had experienced grace on a finite level. God’s infinite grace is even greater. It was infinite grace when Jesus left heaven to come to earth. It was infinite grace when Jesus gave His life at Calvary. And it was infinite grace when Jesus took my sin and gave me eternal life.

Why are these grace discoveries so important as we journey with God? Because they are faith builders. The more we understand the concept of God’s grace the more we are able to trust Him in all circumstances. And the more we trust Him, the more He is able to use us for His glory.

Undoubtedly, this is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

(This article was first published in the Summer 2005 edition of Wesleyan Life magazine)

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