Let me tell you what I know of grace.
Let me tell you how it is like this soft drizzle falling outside my window as I pen these words. How it is like the gift of a gray morning, a 77-degree respite from the stifling June heat.
Grace is the quenching of parched and weary souls, often – dare I say usually – found in unexpected places.
Fear is the demon that plagues me most often. Insecurity wraps its coils around my heart, and always I am fighting through this jungle of tangled vines with the machete of Truth. But some days I am too exhausted to push forward, so I sit and weep. Pity overtakes me.
Voices of Friends
Last Friday I made the trek a few hours south, to sing – yes, to sing using this fragile and failing voice – with a group of friends.
The group meets only once a year. We call ourselves Voci d’Amici – “Voices of Friends.”
Tentatively, I make my way through the door. “I do not belong here,” I whisper to myself. The fear jungle has taken hold, gripped my soul with its fierce tendrils. They squeeze the breath from me and singing is borne on the breath. No sound comes out.
I pretend. I am a fraud. Once again the whisper: “I do not belong.”
There were days past when my voice soared and flew upon the wind. There was a time when it was so effortless I took it for granted, this flight. I needed only breathe and open my mouth and the song was there, so clear you could almost touch it.
But life has had its way with me. I am a wounded bird now: wings still geared for flight, but much too frightened to leave the ground.
Let Me Tell You About Grace
Here is what I know of grace.
These voices of friends wrap around me, soar beside me, lift me up. They do not reject me, even in my wounded state.
Instead the voices comfort and surround me. They include me. They give me courage to fly, just a little, albeit close to the ground.
But this is amazing grace at its very core: that I would not be tossed aside. I am not discarded, even though fear says I should be.
Not discarded, no. Embraced.
And the more I sing, the more I understand that all these birds are wounded in their own way. Some more than others, yes. But all are tentative at first. All are cautious. All are uncertain.
“Can it truly be that we would be allowed to fly again? Today?”
We sing these words:
Like a feather falling from the wing,
Fragile as a human voice, afraid, uncertain,
Alive to love, we sing as love,
Afraid, uncertain, yet our flight begins as song.”*
Like the gulls tethered to James’s giant peach, together we overcome the timidity that would keep us grounded, the doubt that would glibly devour us. Grace bonds us together and strengthens our wings, enabling us to fly, far away and above the shark-infested waters of fear.
Together these voices of friends, buoyed by one another, soar to heavenly heights.
Grace Flies in the Face of Fear
This, my friends – this is grace.
- Grace comforts and enfolds.
- Grace binds up wounds and carries the broken.
- Grace never rejects, never discards, never threatens.
- Grace lifts up the heavy-hearted and loves completely.
We close our time together with worship and my heart soars, even when my voice falters.
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be
Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wand’ring heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” **
Over and over these chains of fear seek to keep me in bondage. Daily I am indebted to grace, which never chides and never condemns, but always frees and lifts and soars.
Grace flies in the face of fear.
Each day is gift, an opportunity to open the door to grace again and again. His mercies are new every morning.
Never have I felt grace so keenly as I do on this Sunday morning, singing with these voices of friends, worshiping the God of grace as tears begin to brim, knowing how this experience – this moment – is a perfect portrait of grace.
What You Must Know About Grace
If you are struggling, dear friend, to know what grace is, to understand it, to believe that yes, God could love and accept you when you feel so undeserving – learn this today:
Grace never condemns. Grace doesn’t discard. Graces doesn’t shun.
Grace embraces, warms, accepts, loves, includes. It is always – always – gift. It welcomes you in. It is always good.
And it will always – always – overwhelm broken souls with its purity.
We are children with tears and bruises we can’t explain.
Grace is the counteroffer. It is the comforting embrace of father/mother God. Grace finds us, lifts us, soothes and settles. Grace always loves. Grace reminds us how precious we truly are, even in our rawest pain and affliction.
May you dear reader, experience that grace today.
As for me, my heart is full.
Though I am prone to wander through this dense jungle of fear, grace never stops hunting me down.
May the grace of God hunt you down as well and capture you today, just as it has me this past weekend.
And beloved child that you are — may it lift you up and never let you go.