If you Google "Grace" you will see this definition. The second noun is the one that is important to me; "the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings." It's a mouthful, isn't it? What does it mean, really? Along with searching the Bible, I decided to read the book "Grace" by Max Lucado. He pretty much sums it up by this quote, "Whenever God looks down at you, this is what he sees: the prefect Lamb of God covering you." Even at our best, we are but filthy rags to God. Grace is Jesus covering us and filtering out our sin.
We are nearing the Easter and Passover season. The Israelites were spared from the Angel of Death because of the lambs' blood covering their doorways. Jesus Christ became the ultimate sacrifice and freely gave himself to cover us, our dirty, sin-covered souls, so that God could look upon us. No other sacrifices are needed, because he was blameless and perfect. He covers us, so that God can look beyond our sin with love and yes, bestow blessings upon us.
As the mother of a toddler, I am faced every day with the dilemma of whether to hand out discipline to my child when she acts out, or to look beyond her defiance with love and just love on her. I don't believe in not disciplining my child. It is my duty to her to teach her right from wrong. That said, I am not without understanding that sometimes there is more to her behavior than just acting out for the sake of acting out. I need to take into account whether or not she is tired, if she isn't feeling well, and several other factors. Often, though she is a strong-willed girl, her actions aren't a deliberate test of my authority but her way of letting me know that all is not well in the the land of Ladybug. It is during those times that I realize that I need to cover her with love rather than punishment. The lesson that she needs to learn is that there is nothing she can do to lose my love, just as there isn nothing we can do to lose God's. That is grace.
I honestly don't know if I received a lot of grace as a child. Guilt I was given in abundance, but grace.... I don't know. I think that in a way it was thought that I was, but really it was sugar-coated guilt. Maybe that's the opinion most children have, thinking more on the negative consequences of things. I'd like to think that, but in all honestly I think one of the reasons I haven't thought much on it was because it really wasn't something I knew first hand from my own personal experiences. I want Ladybug to know what grace is firsthand so that she won't have to be in her mid-thirties before the concept really starts to click.
So, when she is seriously trying my patience I need to think (and pray) before I dole out punishment and consider whether or not she instead needs grace. It's not always easy to give grace either. There are times when sending her to her room for time-out seems just easier. No one ever said being Mama was easy though. How fortunate for me that I have a savior who bestows grace upon me and teaches me so much more about my relationship with Him through mine with my daughter! Ladybug may not deserve to be hugged rather than punished at times, but then neither do I. What a blessing parenthood is in that we can grow and learn just as much or more than our children if we are open to God's prodding!
"Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace. And he raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him in the heavens. He did this for those in Christ Jesus so that for all future time he could show the very great riches of his grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus. I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. 1 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing." Ephesians 2:5-10 New Century Version (NCV)