God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – His GRACE Truly Is Amazing!
A few days ago, I had a “deep” conversation with two of my wife’s closest friends - sisters actually. There is an invisible “love line” where friends turn into family and these amazing and accomplished women crossed that boundary with us a long time ago.
Over the years, they have been present for us in consistent, meaningful, significant ways - supported us and cheered us on and held us up in so many ways that made us imprint them on our hearts.
But I digress.
I don’t remember how a conversation that began with simple pleasantries of the present meandered into the deep waters of the past but I’m glad it did. What I do remember is the uncommon grace I heard in each of their stories. Nowadays, they are both so filled with positivity and joy – it’s hard to imagine their tough backstories – but they’ve got them!
All three of us talked about childhoods that were less than ideal, childhoods that yielded baggage and hurts and challenges galore. In my case, I had an absentee father, I was genuinely shy and introverted, and there were no role models to champion my cause. How on earth was I to be become a “real man” when there were few to be found? How could I ever succeed at being a husband and a father if the ones I was exposed to were “compromised,” to express it nicely?
We marveled at where we were as opposed to where we are. We agreed that we are all recipients of God’s amazing grace! What exactly is grace? Many moons ago, I heard Pastor David Jeremiah describe it in an unforgettable acrostic - grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Here’s the thing. All of us have pasts - some more littered than others with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. As we mature and make decisions that help determine the course of our lives, we will all be overcome, or we will be overcomers. And our utilization of that grace that God has given us, and that we should give one another, is a key determiner of that outcome.
When it comes to our successful relationships - especially marriage - grace is a key ingredient.
I don’t know why it is, but so many of us focus on the back side of the tapestry - the loose threads that don’t make for a pretty picture but a jumbled, ugly mess. But the front side - that’s the beautiful picture that was intended. The back side is there and is necessary because without it, there would not be a complete picture. I have a close friend who no longer watches the nightly news because it’s typically story after story of death, immorality, and mayhem. What about the “good stuff,” she says?
In many marriages, spouses focus on the problems and the lack and also forget the good stuff. And there’s usually plenty of it! We neglect actually listening to what one another says and does not say! We often allow ourselves to get hurt and upset – “throwed off” - so easily.
When I think about my marriage, rare has been the instance when I ever thought my spouse said or did something to intentionally hurt me.
A good marriage thrives on grace! Grace gives your loved one the benefit of the doubt, knowing their intentions are not to cause offense to you, to harm you. Grace chooses to be loving, even in light of the flaws exhibited by another party. Grace looks in the mirror and recognizes the person staring back at you isn’t so perfect either.
Remind yourself often that your spouse is NOT your carbon copy! Being different is okay. The different way of thinking that my spouse has is a huge positive. I cannot count how many times Vanessa’s different perspective has been a great help to bringing me balance in surveying a situation and us together making an informed decision. I hope she can say the same about me.
Grace makes allowance for your spouse to be different!
In no way should grace be dispensed as a free ticket to say and do whatever! Absolutely not! Grace does not have to say that what happened was okay. No one has the right to violate standards or rules that are in place for a reason.
But grace does give your partner space to grow!
I smile as I remember the conversation I had with our sisters by heart and by choice. Reaching back to a childhood that had a lot of “bad stuff” in it reminds me of how very far God has brought me. If I got what I deserved and what the devil no doubt desired for me, I would be in a totally different space right now. I’m so incredibly blessed!
I’m grateful to embrace God’s grace - it truly is amazing!