A few years ago, I was invited to preach in a friend’s church in North Carolina. I struggled with what I would say, wanting a timely Word from God to minister to the people. All I could hear was “grace.” So, I taught a nice lesson on grace – what it is, how it works, what you’re supposed to be able to do with it. When I finished, the pastor came over to me and began to prophesy. Here’s the gist of it: “You will know and experience the Grace of God for yourself in ways you never imagined.”
Sounds good, right? Kind of gets your little Holy Ghost goose bumps goin’…well, not for me. There was weightiness in what the man of God said. It stuck with me. It was like the Lord was saying to me, “You only think you know what My Grace is, but just you wait…” And He was right, of course. I knew grace from a mental perspective; I knew it scripturally. I had studied it, but I hadn’t really lived it. And I didn’t really want to.
“What? You didn’t want to experience the grace of God?” you may ask in shock. Well, no. And I’d like to propose that most of you are the same way. See, to truly experience God’s grace, you have to need it. Let’s go with the definition we’re familiar with: grace is the ability of God to do for you, through you, and in you what you cannot do for yourself. Well, we want to do everything for ourselves. We don’t want to face things that require us to have to depend on someone else. Let’s face it; few of us like to give up the wheel, even to God.
When did Paul learn how to rely on grace? It was when the enemy sent a messenger as a thorn in his flesh to buffet him. He wanted out of the attack (don’t we all?!), and prayed to be delivered from it. When God finally did speak to him, He said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” What did that mean? Did that mean he was supposed to sit by and let the devil beat up on him, and God would give him grace to put up with it? NO! God had already given Paul the revelation that, by grace, we are to reign in this life (Romans 5:17) through Christ. We are to be rulers as kings over circumstances because of this grace. Paul was in a circumstance in which he needed to reign, to rule over the enemy. God was saying, “Paul, I’ve already given you My grace; use it to help your ability, and we can take care of this together.”
So, here are some things I’ve learned about Grace. First, you only need it in situations that are bigger than you. Second, you can’t take care of those situations and circumstances by yourself; you need God’s ability to help you get the job done. Third, God wants to help empower you instead of doing it all Himself. And last, we’re not waiting on God; He’s waiting on us to understand, like Paul, that He has already given us His grace to have faith in Him and His Word. Now, we need to act on it…by faith and empowered by grace…to see the manifestation of our victory.
You know that science experiment where you put an inch or two of colored water in the bottom of a clear bottle, and then you pour in vegetable oil to the top and shake it up? In just a few minutes, the colored water is clearly separated on the bottom with the oil resting on top. Let’s use that to illustrate God’s grace. The colored water represents your ability. It might be one inch deep, or it might be several inches deep, depending on your own ability in the given situation. The oil, on the other hand, represents God’s ability. It does not mix with your own ability or rest under your ability; it covers it, making up the gap between what you have and what is necessary. The more you can do, the less of God’s grace you need to fill the bottle. The less you can do, the more God’s grace is required.
To know His grace is to have to rely on it in the face of all hell breaking loose in your life; to still have the confidence to see your bottle full of oil so you can stand and say, “I really can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Understanding grace is truly experiencing less of you and more of God. It’s looking at the one inch of you in the bottom of that bottle and rejoicing that the bottle is still full because of Him. It is being able to say, “Whether I am abased or I abound, I am content” because you know His grace makes up the difference….
…because you know His grace is truly amazing!