I'll never forget my first, very personal revelation into the grace of God. Unfortunately, it didn't come until I was a grown woman, with children of my own. I'm sure I'd heard about the grace of God, but either didn't listen, or didn't fully understand. Having known Christ, and having walked with God from the time I was six years old, being filled with the Holy Spirit at the age of eleven (yes, for me a "second blessing" experience), moving in the gifts of the Spirit by age twelve, and experiencing supernatural visitations from God from puberty onward, and then hurled into ministry at the tender age of twenty-seven...you'd think I would have known of the grace of God more than I did.
Nope. And that's an important fact to grasp: I had not experienced grace in its fullness.
Have you experienced the grace of God? With all else you may have experienced, with all else you may know and perceive and understand, have you experienced grace?
When the revelation came, I remember it well. I imagine it was much like Martin Luther's big moment, "The just shall live by faith..." He remembered exactly where he was when the lights came on and shone brightly over that passage of Scripture.
For me, it was nighttime, and well nigh fifteen years ago. I was comfortably esconced in the pillows of my bed, Bible open, searching for strength to raise four small children, and be "the pastor's wife." Suddenly, I flung the pages aside, and came flying out of my room, eyes bugging. Tim was sitting at the computer, working on his studies. I exclaimed, "Honey! I get it! I understand! I'm telling you I could...I could...I could rob a bank right now, and it would not matter! Well, not that I would, but I could, you see....I can't put it into words, but nothing whatsoever can separate me from the love of God."
Tim looked at me and slowly responded, "Ye-e-e-es...." with that look husbands get when they are really thinking, "Uh...you are just now getting this?"
And every day of my life since, the enemy has attempted to steal that seed sown in my spirit that night. If having a seed-stealer hot on my heels was not enough, circumstances conspired, and do conspire, to vandalize the picture of grace my life has become. As many years as it took for me to "get it", the revelation of grace was the easy part. The concept is heady and glorious. It is the reclaim-ation of grace that challenges me to my knees, and will challenge you likewise. The revel-ation brings revel-ry. What joy! The reclaim-ation brings...a reclamation.
Reclaim: To bring into a condition for use, as in cultivation or habitation
The grace message reclaimed is the grace message cultivated and activated...grace unleashed to undo you and plow you right-up-and-over, and then rebuild you and replant you. Grace isn't merely a revelation to be understood. It also is not a gauge we use to rate other Christians. It certainly isn't a badge of having arrived. It isn't a truth that I enjoy personally, but use as a measuring stick to evaluate fellow believers. As soon as "The Grace Message" makes me look down on someone who doesn't yet understand it as I do, I've violated the reality of grace.
Grace is a way of life to be enjoyed....and a gift to be given to others who least deserve it. It exists to be lavished on the very humans who hurt us the most. It is a throne to which we point, and to which all who are in a time of need can be emboldened to run - inspired by our own bold approach.
Grace is personal, but grace's greater glory is communal. Your revelation of it is not tested by how freely you live, personally, but rather by how freely you love, communally.
I'm still finding it odd how the grace-inclined individual can apply grace to everyone but those who challenge her inclination. Isn't that strange? God help the poor soul who clashes with a mercy-motivated person's concept of mercy. That mercy-motivated believer OWNS that gift, byGod, defines it flawlessly (in their mind), and if you dare question their administration of it, they promptly forget mercy. I can say that, both because I bear (practically in my body) the wounds administered by a few Mercy People, and moreover I consider myself to be one who can be patient with almost anyone BUT a legalist.
We are to grow in grace. To me, this means getting beyond receiving it only. We also begin administering it, even when doing so defies reason and makes us insanely vulnerable.
It certainly is not a truth that we gleefully and thoughtlessly snatch up like cheap candy at Mardi Gras. Grace is lion-like, not tame. It is lamb-like, not solitary. We are the sheep of His pasture. We'll be all our lives growing in glorious, scandalous grace. The revelation is only the first step. The reclamation of grace, cultivating it, living it out in our relationships, is the real growth in grace.
When grace reclaims us, it brings as great a reformation to our lives as it did to Luther's.
And that's just crazy.