Okay. I didn’t say I was going to write a series about grace because I had not actually planned to do that. BUT after reviewing Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges and delving and reflecting more deeply on this incredible gift, it has brought me to my fifth post on the subject.
Maybe one of the reasons we struggle so much in grasping the reality of God’s grace starts with our difficulty in acknowledging how insufficient we are.
Affirming our insufficiency opposes the pride lurking beneath the battle. We not only must come to grips with our sin (even if we were not thinking we were all that bad), but we need to admit our utter weakness and inability to manage to be who He calls us to be for even an hour. We also need to understand that we were created for dependence on God. In this era of self-discovery, independence, and autonomy, that can be a hard concept to accept at times.
Most of us do not discover the truth of our insufficiency when life is going relatively smoothly. It’s when we are in the pit of despair, gripped by fear and uncertainty, lost in loneliness, or overwhelmed by grief that the truth dawns: we have no place to turn other than to God.
In a commentary written by P.C. Craigie talking about the Israelites in the Old Testament, we can find a great example:
“The wilderness makes or breaks a man: it provides strength of will and character. The strength provided by the wilderness, however, was not the strength of self-sufficiency, but the strength that comes from a knowledge of the living God.”
How well do we really know Him, this God, this Jesus?
We learn to know Him best in the hard times when we even doubt He is there for us at all. We learn to know Him best when we come to the end of ourselves and surrender. Then we begin to recognize more fully that God’s grace is a gift to us to glorify Him!
During long seasons of challenges and dark valleys when no light appears to us we can be tempted to question whether or not the grace we at first received will run out and see us through to the end.
Jerry Bridges gives an excellent example from the Old Testament to answer our wondering:
“God’s distribution of the manna illustrates the way He distributes grace. There is always an ample supply; no one ever need go without. But there is only as much as we need – and even that is on a day-to-day basis. God doesn’t permit us to ‘store up’ grace. We must look to Him anew each day for a new supply. Sometimes we must look for a new supply each hour!”
A few pages later, Bridges adds the bottom line on it:
“And you will never exhaust the supply of God’s grace. It will always be there every day for you to appropriate as much as you need for whatever your need is.”
We need that grace on days that are not upended as well as on ones that have left us frantic or spent. We need that grace to speak lovingly to our spouse, our children, or the friend who calls when we have no time to listen. We need that grace to sort out our budget, prepare our ministry responsibilities, and handle any jobs assigned to us. We need that grace to appropriate what God asks of us in our walk with Him.
Well-known Puritan theologian, John Owen, put it this way:
“Yet the duties God requires of us are not in proportion to the strength we possess in ourselves. Rather, they are proportional to the resources available to us in Christ. We do not have the ability in ourselves to accomplish the least of God’s tasks. This is the law of grace. When we recognize it is impossible for us to perform a duty in our own strength, we will discover the secret of its accomplishment. But alas, this is a secret we often fail to discover.”
As all of these truths about grace soak in to deeper levels, we can receive God’s grace to let go of any remnant of self-sufficiency and rest in His sufficiency that is always more than enough.