It is interesting what you find when you do a Google image search with the word “grace.”The above pictures are some of the results of this search (Grace Jones, Grace Kelly and Commodore Grace Hopper).
Now, depending on your perspective, this Google image search might make all the sense in the world. Of course three women whose names are Grace would show up. And I also know that if I had typed “God’s grace” into the search bar (which is really what I was thinking about), I would have gotten completely different images.
So what? Well … the word “grace” gets thrown around a lot in religious circles. One might say, “Let’s say grace” before a meal. Another might say, “God is full of grace.” Another might say, “Grace and peace to you.” (And, I must say, the word “grace” gets thrown around in non-religious circles such as, “That ballerina sure is graceful.”)
So what does it mean to talk about “God’s grace?” What do those words mean? What images come to our minds when those words are spoken?
First, I think we all would agree that we like grace … at least when it comes to us. Second, we all could probably admit that we don’t necessarily like it when it goes to others. For instance, several years ago I was pulled over for speeding. When the officer saw that I was several months pregnant, he said, “Are you on your way to the hospital?” I said, “No.” He paused and stood there for a few minutes. Then he said, “You need to drive a little more slowly.” And I drove off (more slowly … without a ticket). I love grace like this. However, the other day someone sped by me while texting, and I was really hoping that person would get pulled over AND get a ticket. I admit, I had no desire for them to receive grace. I wanted and desired justice. I would have been ecstatic if they had been pulled over.
It reminds me of what Sally Brown (Charlie Brown’s sister) says in the Peanuts Christmas special. You may recall that at one point Sally is writing a letter to Santa Claus with a huge list of toys that she wants. At the end of the letter she writes, “But if that is too much to carry, just send cash.” When Charlie Brown sees this and suggests that she is being greedy, Sally responds by saying, “All I want is my fair share. All I want is what I have coming to me.”
And that is what we all want … until we are at the end of our rope or the world is horrible or we have messed up and hurt ourselves or someone else, then, suddenly, grace matters. The thing is … grace is for people who are not ok. Grace is for people who are not perfect. Grace is for people who don’t have their lives together. And when we are in this position, suddenly we understand what grace is (and as much as Grace Jones brought about a new techno sound, Grace Kelly became a princess and Commodore Grace Hopper was a pioneer in computer programming), I’m so glad that God’s grace is provided daily, hourly, for me, for you.
As Jesus says, “‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
As you prepare for your finals and head out on spring break, remember grace … God’s grace … for you.