I became a Christian at 7 years old. I still clearly remember the day I was baptized, one day before my 8th birthday. I remember my Dad sitting me down later and showing me my first one year Bible and telling me to read it everyday, and ever since that day I have done pretty much that.
When you are 8 years old you are also first learning mathematics, mostly as rote. 2+2=4, 3+3=6. You memorize it and you can spit out the answer. My journey to understand grace started out pretty much the same way. What is grace? Unmerited Favor. What does that mean? God loves me even though I don't deserve it. Rote. I can spit out the answer in 3 seconds or less, but it didn't really mean anything to my heart.
Fast forward 11 years. I began going to a church called Mad City Church. My pastor, Shane Holden, a rebel saved by grace preached with a "one string guitar of Grace" as he liked to call it. This string he plucked week after week truly did sing something to my heart. God loves me even in my weakness, for real! It took off years of guilt and never thinking I did enough to please God, years of thinking that He was always mad at me. It opened wide the door to freedom in Christ.
However, a chasm still remained in my understanding of grace. In my youth, I could tell you what grace was but I didn't live in it. In my 20's I could live out of grace and feel its transforming effects in my life, but I couldn't explain it. In my years as a Christian, I have seen two extremes in regards to grace. Extreme 1: Grace is a dangerous thing, it gives people a license to sin and therefore we should be quiet about it. This extreme is a complete reaction to the second extreme that states grace is a license, I can do whatever I want and sin does not matter any more because I am free by the grace of God. This extreme wears their sin proudly like a badge of honor on their chest. They are providing an opportunity for God to pour on a little more grace...
In my journey of grace, I personally have been pulled to both extremes, seeing the hearts of so many Christians whose lives have been shattered by blatant sin done under the covers of "grace" makes me want to hide grace, too. But experiencing the freedom of grace in my own personal life, I knew it had to be more than I understood; it is too good to be hidden. So knowing the truth of God's word in regards to sin and knowing and living in the beauty and freedom of grace, I knew that there was a way they are connected but I couldn't explain how. Then 7 months ago, I heard a sermon that has been an "Ah, ha" moment for me ever since (Applied Grace 11/1/09 by Sam Dharam). The words that he said on that day, registered with my heart and have settled some things and opened doors to many other things. So I've been thinking about this concept of grace for 7 months and observing, contemplating and wondering if this is too good to be true:)
This post is Part 1 of a 5 part series. It has truly been a journey to understand grace and that is what describes it best (sorry to Amber and her blog Journey of Grace:) it's just such a good description that I had to borrow it. The purpose of this series Journey to Understand Grace will simply be me sharing my thoughts, observations and things that I have thought about during the last 7 months (or perhaps 22 years). I am not a theologian by any means, I'm just a wife and a mother trying to walk out this thing called Christianity the best that I can and thus I will be sharing what I'm in the process of learning and living.