by David Busic
Most of us have experienced moments when we would have prayed for a “do over.” We’ve all wished we could somehow take back the words that cut like a knife into the heart of one we love. Most of us have wished we could roll back time and erase an impulsive action that has left in its wake a wreckage of damaged emotions and relationships.
We feel terrible when those moments happen. We experience shame, guilt and awkwardness. We cry out for help. We cry out for a Grace Connection similar to the following:
- “Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (Psalm 86:1).
- “Return to us, O God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine” (Psalm 80:14).
- “God have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
These are cries for grace. Why? Because our desire for inner peace demands we experience grace connections.
I. Why a Grace Connection is needed?
A. Sin makes it necessary (Romans 3:23).
B. Our personal behavior requires it (Ephesians 2:1-3).
by Max Lucado
“The small house was simple but adequate. It consisted of one large room on a dusty street. Its red-tiled roof was one of many in this poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the Brazilian village. It was a comfortable home. Maria and her daughter, Christina, had done what they could to add color to the gray walls and warmth to the hard dirt floor: an old calendar, a faded photograph of a relative, a wooden crucifix. The furnishings were modest: a pallet on either side of the room, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove.
Maria’s husband had died when Christina was an infant. The young mother, stubbornly refusing opportunities to remarry, got a job and set out to raise her young daughter. And now, fifteen years later, the worst years were over. Though Maria’s salary as a maid afforded few luxuries, it was reliable and it did provide food and clothes. And now Christian was old enough to get a job and help out.
Some said Christina got her independence from her mother. She recoiled at the traditional idea of marrying young and raising a family. Not that she couldn’t have had her pick of husbands. Her olive skin and brown eyes kept a steady stream of prospects at her door. She had an infectious way of throwing her head back and filling the room with laughter. She also had that rare magic some women have that makes every man feel like a king just by bring near them. But it was her spirited curiosity that made her keep all men at arm’s length.
She spoke often of going to the city. She dreamed of trading her dusty neighborhood for exciting avenues and city life. Just the thought of this horrified her mother. Maria was always quick to remind Christina of the harshness of the streets. ‘People don’t know you there. Jobs are scarce and the life is cruel. And besides, if you went there, what would you do for a living?’
Maria knew exactly what Christina would do, or would have to do for a living. That’s why her heart broke when she awoke one morning to find her daughter’s bed empty. Maria knew immediately where her daughter had gone. She also knew immediately what she must do to find her. She quickly threw some clothes in a bag, gathered up all her money, and ran out of the house.
On her way to the bus stop she entered a drugstore to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all she could on pictures. With her purse full of small black and white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janeiro.
Maria knew that Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that were before unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. She went to them all. And at each place she left her picture – taped to a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note.
It wasn’t too long before both the money and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The weary mother wept as the bus began its long journey back to her small village.
It was a few weeks later that young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times over she had longed to trade these countless beds for her secure pallet. Yet the little village was, in too many ways, too far away.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation:
‘ Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.’
II. What does it mean to experience a Grace Connection?
A. Grace is love in action (Ephesians 2:4-5).
B. Grace is God’s divine make over (Ephesians 2:5-8).
III. How Grace connects with us.
A. Grace comes from God.
B. Grace isn’t earned it’s given.
C. Grace is received by faith.
IV. What a Grace Connection does for us.
A. Connects us to God.
John Newton’s story is one of grace connection. “John had a pious mother who taught him Scripture passages and hymns. He could read the Catechism at age four. His mother died when John was eleven. His father being a sea captain, John joined him at sea. Later John operated a slave ship, transporting slaves from Africa to various parts of the world. During this time he sank to the depths of immorality and depravity. On his final voyage to England he met a pious captain who helped to bring him to Christ.
After his conversion he became associated with the Wesleys and George Whitefield. He studied the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek. He was ordained as a curate of Olney and preached at gatherings of the dissenters.
John Newton wrote his own epitaph: ‘John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had so long labored to destroy.’”
- Every Day With A Hymn by Milton E. Hammerstrom
B. Brings inner peace and balance to our lives.
C. Allows us to connect with otherss
A Grace Connection allows us to walk back into our yesterdays of failure, hurt, anger, bitterness, loneliness, sorrow, guilt, despair, and frustration. We experience God’s healing love that says, “It’s over.” No more being a victim. Grace actively brings us into a new day of living in freedom. The old hymn perhaps says it best:
“Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within!
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!”
The Grace Connection is available, ready and waiting for you.