Have you experienced grace?

Perry Lee // September 16, 2018, 12:59 am


Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash

Like most believers, I always skipped the greeting and farewell verses of Paul when I read his epistles, dismissing them as trivial and of no consequence – merely niceties in letter writing. Especially when he keeps mentioning the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I never quite understood grace.

Like most believers, I understood and experienced grace only at conversion, being presented with the Gospel of salvation and for some of us the conscious filling of the Holy Spirit.

Like most believers, I understood and experienced grace only at conversion.

After that initial big bang, everything just ran on performance and the maintenance of “good” Christian living.

I must have been quite tired in my soul … because I distinctly asked God: What is grace? How is it I don’t seem to know it intimately as a comfort and boon as Your word claims?

This query happened one late night as I alighted from the feeder bus and walked across the road to my flat.

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The Lord then spoke and asked some pertinent questions:

Did you experience grace while growing up?

Thinking of my late disciplinary grandmother and strict father, I answered, No, I don’t think so.

Did you experience grace in school? Thinking of my talkative nature, forgetfulness, and occasional misunderstandings with school authority, No.

What about National Service in your two and a half years in the army? What? Are you joking, Lord? Of course not!

What about your work life then? I thought of former unsympathetic bosses and what seemed, at times, unreasonable work pressure. If there was grace, I can’t even remember!

So how can you begin to understand grace when you seldom experienced it in your life? His reply stunned me!

A memory bank of grace

Like the line from Amazing Grace – “I was blind but now I see” – the revelation hit me like a ton of bricks within a minute’s walk from the bus stop.

By the time I reached my flat, I said, Then You must show me what grace is. I just don’t get it besides the salvation message. I can’t grasp what “My grace is sufficient for you” means.

Gradually I did.

As I look back at my past life, there were two distinct acts of grace from my strict father.

There was the often unconditional love from my mother.

There were also several instances when God intervened unexpectedly in insurmountable circumstances.

I was merely not cognisant of them then. So they didn’t consciously form a memory bank of grace that I could draw upon.

Jesus, full of grace, the embodiment of grace who dwelt among us, who now dwells in me by His Spirit.  

So I had to petition God: Can You show me what grace is from now on? I need to know as I realise it’s essential to my daily walk with You.

And God did.

For the last 10 years I have been experiencing grace as I’m conscious of it now whenever it appears, in whatever form.

“Unmerited favour” is no longer a cognitive term.

My grace memory bank is now filling up – my seminary dean’s unexpected kindness, my miraculous bounce back from death, my career journey, “coincidences” too many to ruminate, and so forth.

On a cognitive level, it’s a given in psychology that what we don’t experience or are unaware in our life – especially in our growing up years – makes it difficult to grasp or appreciate later in life when we experience it.

It’s like trying to explain colours to a man blind from birth.

So look back and begin to ponder. You will be surprised to find instances of grace in your life. (Along this journey the other meaning of grace was discovered – divine empowerment, a definition seldom known to many.)

Grace is now longer cognitive, a mere word. It has become affective, the Word made flesh.

Jesus, full of grace, the embodiment of grace who dwelt among us, who now dwells in me by His Spirit.  

And yes, I now read the greetings and farewells of Paul with greater appreciation. 

About the author

Perry Lee

Perry Lee is a freelance counsellor cum psychotherapist. He also teaches holistic health to Christians and budding church leaders. Besides a BA in liberal arts (theology), he did a three-month internship in Portland, Oregon for his MA (counselling). He has worked in a para church ministry, local church and a mission society in Hong Kong/China.