by Carol Bond Wagner
Grace is a difficult place to live.
I have a love-hate relationship with grace. There are moments when I am completely overwhelmed by her beauty. When I am at my lowest, she pulls me in close and envelops me in love. When I am broken and buried in a mess of my own making, she breathes new life and purpose into me. When I am fully aware of my imperfections and insufficiencies, grace offers me a new identity.
But there are other moments—and these oftentimes outnumber the prior–that I battle against grace. Because she is a constant reminder that I am not as independent as I think I am. That I need something I cannot provide for myself. She strips me of my good behavior and any ideas of my own worthiness. She laughs in the face of my “I can pick myself up by my bootstraps” and “Thanks, God, I’ve got it from here” mentalities.
Deep down inside
a part of me desperately wants
to deserve it.
The very definition of grace is “undeserved favor”—and that makes me uncomfortable. Because deep down inside a part of me desperately wants to deserve it.
That is exactly why I love the Old Testament story of Jacob.
Because Jacob never deserves the favor God bestows on him, but God still chooses him. Throughout his life, Jacob is stubborn and combative with God. He is slow to obey and hesitant to believe. He demands proof of God’s faithfulness before he is willing to leap. His entire journey is about promoting and protecting his self-sufficiency.
Like me, Jacob doesn’t handle grace very well.
But that never deters God.
God embraces Jacob’s strong personality and doesn’t shy away from his swindler reputation. He welcomes Jacob’s tenacity—even wrestling with him until dawn. God never demands Jacob be anything other than who he is. And He never rebukes Jacob for his skepticism or self-preservational tendencies. God blesses him where he is, rough edges and all. He doesn’t wait for Jacob to deserve or earn it.
Jacob’s journey reminds me that grace is not a rule I can keep or a standard I must try to live up to. I don’t deserve God’s grace, and I never could. God’s love is so much greater than my meager efforts to please Him.
We are all undeserving. We always will be.
And that’s OK.
Because that’s exactly why grace is a beautiful place to live.
posted on February 21, 2018
Meet the Author:
Carol Bond Wagner is an award-winning author and Bible teacher who is captivated by God’s wild and relentless pursuit of humanity. Her passion for the stories and people of the Old Testament began during her undergrad studies at Campbellsville University and culminated with two master’s degrees from Cincinnati Christian University.
Her proposal for God Is Out to Get Us won the prestigious Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Book award in 2008. She has since written two books in this series: God Is Out to Get Us: From the Very Beginning and God Is Out to Get Us: At All Costs—The Life of Abraham. Both books available on Amazon.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Carol now resides in southern Utah with her husband, Tom, and their two Weimaraners, Judah and Asher.