Grace sounds like such a soft word. It sounds so meek and passive – like something that could never be strong enough to effect change. I think somewhere deep inside of me I’ve thought that to be the case. But over the past couple of weeks I’ve realized – deeply – just how wrong I was.
You see, I can be quite a selfish person. I have a tendency to be bossy and critical and can get really caught up in my own head. I’m sure that will shock some of you…ok, maybe not so much. (Unfortunately it’s often the people closest to me that get to see not-so-nice Amanda rear her not-so-pretty head.) Add those selfish tendencies to a lack of sleep, lack of coffee and lots of stress over unfinished art pieces for our Berlin gallery and you have the equation that led to some serious crankiness.
Enter Bryan; patient and gracious, helpful and thoughtful. While I threw out request after request for help with errands and became increasingly cranky and emotional he graciously responded with, “of course, I’m glad to help” and “it’s ok, you’re just stressed”. To be honest, all of the grace that he showed me – his unwillingness to get frustrated or upset – made me mad. I wanted him to respond the way I was. I wanted him to focus on defending himself and leave me to my needed attitude adjustment. After all, it’s that tough love that brings change, right? But he didn’t. He gave me grace, and lots of it. And do you know what happened? I felt the weight of it. I felt the need to look at my actions and realized how horrible I was being. I felt compelled – ok, convicted – to apologize and change those actions. In a word, to repent.
Who knew that a “passive” act like grace could change people? Oh, wait, that’s right…Jesus. We are quite selfish people if you get down to it – every last one of us. But in the midst of that, he offered himself in the greatest act of grace the world has ever seen. And it actually started long before the New Testament. God is a god of redemption and reconciliation. His heart is to have us back, not to shout out how horrible we are to make us feel bad for the sake of it.
I’m thankful God used Bryan to show me such a powerful and convicting illustration of how deep that goes and how effective grace can be.
After all, as it says in Romans 2:4
…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.
So, I encourage you today to take the challenge of Jesus’ lead and let his grace work through you to show His kindness. Hopefully, one day I’ll get there, too.