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Grace can be so elusive. Not because of the character of grace, which is abundant and available, but because of the barriers we have put up. Whether the voices in our head that push performance, the demands of the culture, or just the completely illogical notion of grace, we have a hard time grasping and taking hold of what has been lavished upon us. 

Our clan of 5 went back to visit my family in Pennsylvania this summer and luckily our trip coincided with the annual celebration for the town of Intercourse. So many jokes come to mind, but must…stay… focused. Adding a third kid to our family has created some new travel constraints, especially the size of car we need. To help us cut down the cost of the trip, my parents and sister’s family sacrificed time and energy to constantly switch around cars to make it work without us renting a van! We drove my sister’s minivan throughout the week, which was a huge blessing.

Without going into details, and fighting the urge to explain my innocence, we were in a minor car accident one night. In my sister’s car. It was still drivable and nobody was hurt. But it caused just enough damage to the front corner that insurance was brought in.

I wrestled with giving myself grace. Although I hopefully am found faultless, in hindsight, I probably could have avoided the accident with better awareness. Hindsight is always so enlightening and irritating. I did not want Jesse & Michelle (brother-in-law & sister) to have to bear any of the responsibility or burden.

I tried to figure out a way to pay out of pocket, or go through my own insurance. There is a good chance fault will be relegated to the other party, so the first option was hard to swallow and would have set us back financially. And since it is not my car, going through my insurance was not an option. 

I’m left with one solution: go through Jesse and Michelle’s insurance. With the possibility of them absorbing the repercussions on their insurance premium for any fault they find in me. That possibility kept me awake at night. They absorb the consequences of my actions.  I did not like it at all. 

Jesse and Michelle showed me an overwhelming amount of grace through it all. No bitterness. No complaining. And then had the audacity to trust us and let us drive their car the rest of the week. They were showing me Jesus, which was hard to receive. 

Why? Because I often have a hard time with Jesus showing me Jesus.

I can talk about the generous and scandalous grace of God any day, and spend hours trying to convince somebody why they should accept it.  Yet, I resist accepting it almost daily. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus screams grace. I can’t avoid it.

I search for loopholes: What if I try my best to earn the grace and love that has already been given to me? That will make me feel better! Then when I get to heaven, I can say, “It is by God’s grace I am here!!  But let’s be honest, I was good either way (wink)!”

When somebody treats me to lunch, or serves me in some way, my first instinct is to figure out a way to repay them. Get us back to even ground.

I do the same with grace. I screw up. Understand and receive God’s grace.  And then try to do something to cancel out the mistake and feel better. It is uncomfortable sitting in that grace, love, and delight without anything required in return.

Understanding grace is a difficult step that can take a long time. Receiving that grace freely is beyond my grasp at times.

My hope is to one day receive God’s grace, believe that God doesn’t just give that to me because He has to, fully embrace that God delights in me equally in my good and bad, and respond by giving that same grace to others.  Not out of earning or feeling better, but out of gratitude. 

How can you receive God’s grace this week? How can you receive grace from others?

Here is to grace, the most annoying and amazing thing available. 

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