It took a while for grace to sink into my heart.
Growing up in church, I assumed that what God wanted most was for me to be good. So I tried really hard and got really good at being good. I figured if I was good enough, God would give me a good life. It was a transaction: I brought my goodness to God, and in exchange, I hoped He would bless me. I was performing for God’s love.
That sort of worked until my early teen years when I could no longer ignore how sinful I really was. Deep down I knew I had a problem: I wasn’t actually good. I was afraid that if God knew me as I really was, sinful and broken, He’d never love me. So for the longest time I hid, masked, and faked that I was better than I knew myself to be. I was pretending for God’s love.
But then in utter hopelessness, I cried out for help. I confessed my deep sinfulness and threw myself on the mercy of God. To my astonishment, God looked upon me with love. He knew me completely. He loved me utterly. He forgave me entirely. I was loved for Jesus’ sake, because of His life, death, and resurrection on my behalf. It was the first time I’d tasted grace. I was presented with God’s love.
And here’s what I’ve discovered. Grace melts us out. Grace changes our hearts. Grace makes us grow in God’s goodness. It turns out I had it all backward! I’d been trying to obey for God’s acceptance. But obedience flows from God’s acceptance. We can never grow good enough to earn God’s grace. But God’s grace grows us into people of goodness. Performing and pretending will never make us good. Only being presented with God’s love in Christ by grace will make us godly.
By grace, we are loved, more than we know.