Why is Grace So Difficult to Receive?

Why is grace so difficult to receive?  Early this summer, I was challenged with this question in a profound way.

As a pastor, I often challenge people from the pulpit to care for their neighbors and strangers, to demonstrate the love and grace of God that has been shown to them.  There are people all around us every day that need to be shown the grace of God through our actions, and God has placed us in their lives for a purpose.

This sounds right, is often convicting, and challenges us to think outside of ourselves.  But, it’s not often that I embrace being the recipient of the love and grace I call people to demonstrate to others.  My weekend experience revealed in my heart an often theoretical understanding of the love and grace of God through the kindness of others, but truly embracing grace means I have nothing to give, and that is a difficult pill to swallow.

My family and I were driving the 450 mile trek from Chattanooga to Raleigh, following a week at our denomination’s annual pastor’s gathering (General Assembly), when the battery light came on the dashboard.  After several days of meetings, I was eager to get home, so I stopped and prayed that it was a fluke and that God would get us home in due time.  God had a different timetable than I did.

As we wound through the mountains on interstate 40, just west of Asheville, our van became less like a vehicle and more like my stubborn dog, when it doesn’t want to be led by her leash.  The harder I pushed the gas, the more noise the vehicle made, but it refused to shift, and my wife said the words I did not want to hear – “You need to get off this exit and find a place to park.”

Soon we found ourselves in West Asheville, NC, sitting in a Subway restaurant connected to a gas station, frantically working the keyboard on my laptop and the keypad on my iPhone, trying to find a mechanic who could see and fix our van at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.  No one was open, and no one we talked to knew of anyone who could do the work that day.  Next step – Find a hotel!

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