When my daughter died, the grace of God alone saved me from the devastation of my loss.What is grace and what difference does it make in my relationship with God and with others?
When God looks at me through the eyes of Christ, He sees the righteousness of Christ (Colossians 1:22). This is grace. Christ died so that He could clothe us with His own perfect righteousness and then present us to His Father, “holy, blameless and above reproach.”
Grace does not force upon me a life of legalism. Grace awakens within me a burning desire to please Him because of what He has done for me.
Once God pierced the lies I had told myself with the truth of what He says of me. I was free—free from the bondage of legalism, my own futile attempts to win God's favor. I thought I was unworthy of intimacy with God because I missed the mark of perfection that a Holy God requires. Deep inside I knew I was not perfect. I knew something needed to be done to make up for that fact. However, personal holiness is the result of Jesus Christ’s redemption of one’s life.
Christ died on a cross so we could approach Almighty God. Theologian Oswald Chambers says, “Holiness is an effect of redemption, not the cause of it.”[iii] I did not need to work to impress Him in order to win His affection. He drew near to me.When I accepted His perfect love for me, fear of failure and punishment dissolved and I found security in the knowledge of my future with Him—now and forever. When I returned to the truth of His unconditional love, I enjoyed strength, refreshment, victory, peace, and greater intimacy with God.
As with Peter by the Galilean lakeside, the risen Christ prepares a feast for me—His body, the bread broken for me; His blood, the wine poured out on my behalf. In the sacrament of Holy Communion, His body and blood mingle with mine as I allow His Holy Spirit to fill and renew me. He pierces my heart with questions--not always easy or comfortable. I confess my failures, tell Him I am sorry, and ask His forgiveness. He touches my lips with living coals, pardons my sin and purifies me. I take the wine and the bread He graciously, freely, offers and pledge my love for Him. Our hearts meet. His Spirit blazes up in me and He warms me from the inside out. He ravishes me with His love.
God’s love vanquished my fears.
With mercy, grace and compassion, He administered the cleansing blood of Jesus to my bleeding, dying heart. He infused His own healing balm of the Holy Spirit, giving me a new heart, new life, through the sacrifice of the life of His only Son.
God wants to fill each of us with His Love. He never disappoints. He fills me with His essence. As I give more of myself to Him, my heart’s passion inflames. Thy will be done—in me—through me. God gives me everything I need to live a life that pleases Him by revealing more of His self to me through His Holy Word. Although I only catch glimpses of Him, He satisfies my deepest longing.
In this life, a story about death would seem to be an ending. At long last, I have arrived at the end of myself. Yet, in God, there is no end. The difference now is that His perfect love in me casts out my fears. I sit at His feet. He stills my restless soul. He settles me. He picks me up, He covers me with His robe of righteousness and applies the healing balm of His anointing oil. I kneel, speechless in the mystery of the work of the Holy Spirit, of Holy God, within me.
Though we lay before God, wounded and broken, He stands ready to heal, to restore. His redeeming power is, and always will be, greater than the Liar’s power to ravage our joy, to extinguish our hope, to destroy our lives. I serve Christ now, not to win His love or gain some false sense of security through my works. I serve Him because I can do no less in response to the love He has showered upon me. The Holy Spirit, which He placed within me, assures me of His love and His abiding presence. I can ignore His Spirit, but His love still calls to me.
God calls me to freedom, not works; to love, not punishment; to relationship, not fear. Christ is full of compassion. He understands our losses. His tears mingle with ours. He loved my daughter. He loves her even more than I do. Standing on the other side of this tragedy, possessing peace and joy that passes all understanding, I rejoice knowing my daughter is in Heaven where she now lives in the joy of God’s presence.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). The Light of the World walked with me out of that pit of guilt. I could do nothing to lift myself out, nothing to remove my guilt. God took the initiative. He rescued me. In my emptiness, I discovered blessed stillness. I heard God speak gently, kindly with compassion and empathy to my soul. I know what you thought. I know the truth. I am the Truth. I love you. I never stopped loving you. I will never stop loving you. Begin to praise me and walk on.
Walk on, my friend. Walk on.