(By Rachel Joyce)
Have you ever wished you could go back and tell your younger self something - something that if you had only known, it would have made such a difference in your life?
Sometimes truth comes upon us gradually, little by little, like the first blush of dawn gently lessening the night’s blackness. Other times, it’s like a flash of lightning on a dark evening, a sudden, stark, and brilliant illumination.
I’ll never forget where I was when I first heard Tenth Avenue North’s song “By Your Side.” Although God had been gently teaching me about grace and although I knew that it was God’s grace which had brought me into God’s family, I hadn’t grasped the reality that He wanted me to live in the fullness of His grace - receiving it, resting in it, and letting it flow from me to others.
So the first few lines of the song burst upon my awareness with all the power and brilliance of a thunderbolt:
Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Let me lift up your face.
Just don't turn away.
My Christian life had been one of striving. Striving out of love for my Savior, but still striving. Striving to get it right and to measure up. Striving to be enough and to do enough. Striving to show Him my love and to please Him.
This striving led me, as a young teen, when I was on a cross-stitching kick, to make a wall hanging for my bedroom of my heart’s desire - to please Him.
Now, it’s true that we were made to live for the glory of God. He desires us to align our values with His and make decisions that honor Him. But all of this should come from a place of grace.
And in that moment, as the music of the song filled my ears, its truth flooded my weary soul:
And I'll be by your side wherever you fall.
In the dead of night whenever you call.
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you.
My hands are holding you.
As Christians, we understand that it was only God’s grace that saved us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 ESV). Yet so often, once we have received God’s amazing gift of salvation, we proceed to live as though we need to measure up in order to be accepted and loved.
Paul affirms, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk [live] in him” Colossians 2:6). You were saved by grace; live by grace.
It’s not about striving. It’s about resting in His love and grace, and letting them so fill our hearts and souls that they overflow in our lives. He wants that place of His acceptance to be our home, so that we worship, serve, and make decisions, not anxiously propelled by a need to please, but because through Christ, we already please Him.
We live for His glory because He is our glory, our delight, and the passion of our hearts.
These are truths that I did not know when I was young, but I wish I had. Grace cannot be earned, only received.
Lord, help us to so receive Your grace that we live in its fullness more and more each day until that glorious day when we see you face to face and experience the infinite glory of Your grace forevermore.