1969249_10152687696097067_1024007189_nIt’s hard to explain the moment that takes your breath away; the moment that feels like peace has settled into your deepest being; the moment that finds your face in a mixture of contemplation and perfect rest, where your mind is elsewhere drinking in the wisdom that has been brought to you. This “hard to explain’ moment happened upon me.  Sitting in the balcony of our beautiful church, with stained glass windows reflecting the beauty from without and within, I looked up at the wooden ceiling and listened as the words of the well-known hymn both pierced and soothed my soul.

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved…” and while the congregation kept singing, I was still lost in that one phrase.

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved…” both the curse and the cure.

What does that mean? I have sung it a thousand times and only heard it today? It is by God’s grace that we become aware of any need and desire for Him. And it  is His grace that satisfies, dispelling the fear and replacing it with something much more powerful. The ugly of it is that everything about Grace indicates we’re needy. If you have it all together, you don’t need grace. And I guess that’s what’s so  hard. It means we’re lacking. It feels awful to be in such a place.But it’s there in that need that we can accept treasures. Life. Hope. Strength.

My mind re-lived real places I have walked, real struggles, hurdles, valleys and pressures.  In these places I’m always the receiver. I’m needy, desiring change. I want water to quench my thirst, strength for one more step, hope for something better. And all of that I realize now, is grace.

I looked down and saw people I care about,  all representatives of grace. I saw a little girl wrapped in her Father’s arms. A wife sitting alone, her husband recovering from illness.  A college girl sitting by a vulnerable 14 year old. A couple in their 60’s holding hands, both battling cancer. A middle aged man overwhelmed with bad news from the doctor.  A young couple tired from long  nights and juggling children. A 20 year old trying to make sense of this God.  This world. His life. I watched them all sing, hands raised in praise. This is the gift of grace.

Like night that eventually gives way to morning, grace illuminates the landscape of who we are, revealing that we are forever changed.