the joy in grace

I’ve learned from Bible study the difference between mercy  and grace. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve, and grace is getting what  you don’t deserve. You may have heard this before. When I did, it was
revelatory. I think about it from day to day, wondering what it means to get  something that I don’t deserve, and being thankful that I’m not getting what I do deserve. My question is, what is the blessing in God’s keep that He is bringing to me, even though I don’t deserve it? Breath, certainly. And thought. And peace. And joy.

I’ve been humbled in the deep pursuit of these things. To live and breathe and to have peace and joy all at once is too far, too high, too much for me to really understand or perceive. I fail at them. I haven’t learned to breathe as I should. I hoard the air like a lion, sucking up the words of the people around me without thought or concern. Yet I have breath. Somehow, I have not been hoarded. My words, so pointed and blunt, have not been cut off with my tongue.

Let me be buried. Let my words shrivel away. It’s the grace and mercy given me that keeps me alive. All of me has been rushed away and what is left is the life made visible in the grace and mercy of God. I pull from Him the life that defines me. I stick my fingers into the deep strength of His heart and work His blood with my fingers to feel His love. I need Him. I need His breath warming me, His words sticking hard into my blood and changing me. I need God. I need everything that is Him. I need Jesus pumping His heart into mine.

I believe that Man is discovering God through the grace of His Son. His death on the cross and His resurrection from it define how we understand the grace of His Father. Perfect grace was given us through the cross—grace to be ourselves, to live, to breathe, to have peace and joy, to have fellowship, to spread love, to sacrifice, to build up, to renew, to redeem, to forgive.

God defined grace when He sacrificed Him: A Perfect Man who followed the Law in every imaginable and unimaginable way and therefore did not deserve to be killed—who had every right to live forever—and therefore made the one perfect choice that defines Him even now: His willingness to go to the grave for the people who chose to shun Him.

Mercy and grace. Mercy and grace. The love and the joy and the hope and the cross. The beautiful cross. My smooth back and my smooth side and my smooth wrists and my smooth feet and the crown of life on my head and the hope and the peace. My eternity. My joy from grace, the joy in living forever with my King. The fingers I stick Him with, and the tickling and the laughter and the thankfulness.

As a writer I am constantly deepening my understanding of irony. Irony, defined in a literary sense, is a discrepancy between what is perceived and what is real. I maintain that the most ironic act in history, the truest example of irony (I wonder even if it’s somehow the source of irony?), is Jesus dying on the cross. God, sacrificing God. Perfect Man, choosing to become sin. Sinful men, becoming free to enjoy the God who forgives. His mercy gives me the freedom to enjoy His grace. That is a story worth telling.

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