Unexpected. Unearned. Unimagined. “Grace is the voice that calls us to change and gives us the power to pull it off.” – Max Lucado
As I mentioned in an earlier post I adopted a shelter dog two years ago and she came with a lot of baggage. She damaged a few things by chewing on them while I was at work. So I set about to dog proof the room she and my other dogs stayed in while I was gone.
I thought my dog proofing was a success since no incidents had occurred for some time. So I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me when I arrived home from work on a Thursday evening several weeks later.
There it was laying on the bed. My brand new book that had just arrived the day before, Now it had a big chunk chewed out of the cover.
I wasn’t a happy camper. As a slightly OCD perfectionist, in my mind, the book was ruined. It was not pristine anymore. It was ugly. It didn’t matter that all the content was undamaged. The cover just kept screaming at me, “I’m wrecked, I can’t be fixed!”
“Oh no”, I exclaimed out loud as I scanned the room to determine which of my three (at the time) dogs had committed the crime.
Using my best doggie CSI skills, I discovered that the that the torn cover, in fact, had a discernible bite mark. It was too small to be Lexy and too big to be Miley, but it matched Sadie’s mouth exactly.
In Need Of Grace
As I held the book up, I asked, in a calm, sweet tone, “Who did this?” What happened next broke my heart. Lexy and Miley were both looking back at me with an innocent expression, but Sadie was cowering to the floor anticipating the worst. It broke my heart.
I’m not sure what situations she faced in her previous home, but it was evident she had received harsh punishment when she messed up.
Her trembling cowering body cried out, “Please don’t hit me.” At that moment I had a decision to make. Would I punish her or would I extend grace to her? Now make no mistake about it, what she did was unacceptable. She deserved to be in trouble.
Grace Vs. Condemnation
Then I remembered what a friend and mentor once told me, “Always err on the side of grace.” It was one of those sticky statements that impact your life if you let it. I don’t always get it right, but I have made it one of my core values to try and always err on the side of grace.
The thing about grace is no one deserves it. No one! Yet we all crave it for ourselves but often hesitate to extend it to others.
Let’s get one thing straight. Grace is not being nice. It is not pretending everything is all right. Grace is also not avoiding conflict, and it is certainly not excusing sin.
“Grace says with a smile, ‘I am willing to live with the consequences of what you have done. There is no commendation or retaliation here.” – Brenda Mason Young
Grace Wins Every Time
I sat down on the floor beside Sadie and pulled her close. As I hugged her, I softly whispered, “I’m not happy about what you did but I love you, and there is nothing you can do to make me love you any less. We’ll work on this chewing thing together.”
The whole incident was a great reminder for me about how amazing God’s grace is to me. I have had many times where I have stood in need of grace, my hope crushed only to receive that unearned and unimaginable grace from my heavenly Father.
You see, although we give up on ourselves, God doesn’t. God says: “Give me your guilt, and I will replace it with grace.”
Romans 5:20 (MSG) tells us, “All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers, But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.”
Take a moment to listen to Matthew West’s song Grace Wins:
I’m so glad that God doesn’t rub my face in my mistakes, but instead, he helps me to my feet and encourages me to keep going. Grace gives hope and meaning and never ceases to amaze!
How has God shown grace to you? Is there someone to whom you need to offer grace this week?