I used to be afraid of grace.
To accept grace meant I had to first accept the depth of my sin and brokenness. It meant replacing the center of my life with God and his grace instead of me and my effort. It meant God got the credit and the glory, not me.
Somewhere along the way I failed or grew exhausted or a lot of both and I discovered that grace is even more frightening than I thought. And more amazing.
Before grace is amazing, it’s terrifying. Terrifying Grace is the song you shout when you wake up and realize that you can’t save yourself, that you’ve been building your life on sand, not rock. The storm has hit and your house is crumbling. And you suddenly see that the only thing that can save you is not you. It’s the day you quit playing god, and understand that you need a real God.
Before this God rescues you, you have to look him in the eye and digest reality: you are much smaller than you thought and he is much bigger than you thought. Sin and law-breaking and efforts at improvement are now seen in a different light. The pretending ends. Worship starts to make sense. You realize all those church songs were never about you (even though you thought they were), but about Father, Son, and Spirit and the alien righteousness this Three-in-One God brings to people who don’t deserve it.
The reason people sing about “amazing” grace is because they were first terrified of God, knowing that to receive his grace means having to admit the truth about yourself, the truth about God, and the truth about a new life where you never have it all together, but you worship and enjoy the One who does.
This changes everything. Your old categories don’t work anymore. When grace becomes the center of gravity in your life, you discover a life that wasn’t possible before.
Undeserved love (grace) is the only thing that has ever deeply changed me.
I’m still afraid of grace. I don’t quite understand it as I’m prone to be most comfortable with things I can explain and contribute to.
I consider myself a preschooler at grace–I’m awkward both at receiving it and extending it. Grace startles me. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I guess that’s the point.
Justin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church, a church plant in Silicon Valley, and author of the books The Big Story: How The Bible Makes Sense Out of Life and Date Your Wife.