About 3 years ago, around 7:30pm on a Friday, I was pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation. I was prohibited from making a left turn at an intersection between 7pm and 9pm. I was aware of the indicated times but like some of us, I ignored the signs because I was in a rush to a destination. I was startled when the officer handed me a fine with the penalty of 2 points added to my license if I pleaded guilty. The interesting part was that there were others being pulled over for the same reason. This was the first time I saw officers strategically waiting by a traffic sign and watching for violators. However, I refused to plead guilty. I was determined to fight this just like any other ticket I received despite whether I was guilty or not.
So I fought it. I requested a court appearance. This was my first time doing this and I was very skeptical of the outcome. I was afraid of what my future would look like if I didn’t win this case. Would I be stuck with higher insurance for a few years? Would I be able to even switch my insurance company? Minor things that were huge to me. To my surprise, I was in for a treat. Distressed, I approached the judge. The judge then asks “what are you here for?” I revealed the type of traffic violation and before I can even defend my actions. He says “Not Guilty.” Just like that, he let me go and he did it with a smile and said: “enjoy the rest of your day.” The joy I felt was unbelievable. I was also perplexed. Why did he let me off the hook that easy? Forget the points, I didn’t even have to pay a fine which I was confident I’d have to do even if they let me go. I didn’t deserve to be set free and yet the judge deemed me innocent.
My experience is merely one of the many illustrations of God’s grace in my life. The ultimate, most basic display of God’s grace and love not just for me but for all of us is and will always be Jesus’ atonement for our sins. Jesus’ atonement lies at the foundation of every believer. It’s the reason why we think, worship and live the way we do. It’s also what inspired the title of this blog and my youtube channel two years ago. It’s also the meaning of my middle name, Charesse. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that we never fully understand the true meaning of grace until we are faced with the opportunity to give it to others. For example, many of us have a hard time forgiving people who have hurt us in our past. I’ve been faced with this several times in my life. I’ve been bullied throughout elementary school and I’ve felt the power of painful words expressed toward me in my adulthood. I’ve learned that by forgiving those who have hurt me and continuing to express kindness despite the way they’ve made me feel is easy when I can truly reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Of course, forgiveness is never easy but God wants to walk us through it. He wants to remind us daily of His grace upon our lives. We are part of a much larger story.
We are called to die to ourselves daily and submit our will to God’s. Jesus demonstrates this on the cross when He says “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Hence, He pleaded to God to take this cup (the death sentence being carried out) away from Him, if it was in His will. Always affirming God’s will throughout: “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Just imagine the pain experienced, it must have been difficult denying His own will. Jesus certainly wasn’t a man led by His feelings. He carried out the will of God which was often very tough but bore so much glory. Because we know God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose it should be easier to make tough decisions after all they’re not as hard as what Jesus experienced. However, they’re still difficult. Important to note here that directly after Jesus cries out to God, to let His will be done, in verse 43, it says “An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened him.”God knows walking in His will may be difficult for us at times but He will strengthen you.
God has freely given us His grace at His son’s expense so that we can also have the power to deny our will and give grace to others. Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:14 says “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Also in Luke 6:36, Jesus says “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” And He says in Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Until you’ve forgiven or shown compassion to someone who seemingly does not deserve it, you won’t be able to fully wrap your mind around the fullness of God’s grace and mercy bestowed on us. I know this from experience, I’ve spent countless nights crying after a graceful act that I realized God was using to paint a picture of His grace and show me how to deny my flesh and choose His will. I’ve been so blessed by these moments and I look forward to the many ways God will strengthen and use me. I pray He will do the same for you. His grace is immeasurable and incomparable to any amount of grace we’ve ever shown anyone. It’s far beyond anything we can understand. The more we are presented with the challenge of operating gracefully in circumstances that are difficult, the more we will comprehend His grace.
May God’s grace be with you!