“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 (New Living Translation)
I have been thinking quite a bit about GRACE lately. In fact, I as I write this it is just after 3:00 a.m. and God has woken me up to think about it a bit more. What is GRACE?
I have heard it so often in my life in the church I believe I have become immune to it, to what it means, what it holds for my life and what it activates when I step into the true power and fullness of GRACE.
It seems trite but I turned to Merriam Webster to start:
- Unmerited Divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
- A virtue coming from God
- A state of sanctification enjoyed through Divine assistance
- Approval, favor
- Stayed in his good graces
- Mercy, Pardon
- A special favor:
- “Each in his place, by right, not grace shall rule his heritage” – Rudyard Kipling
- disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
- a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE
- a charming or
attractive trait or characteristic
- Among disagreeable qualities he possessed the saving grace of humor.
- a pleasing appearance
or effect : CHARM
- all the grace of youth — John Buchan
- ease and suppleness of
movement or bearing
- danced with such grace
- used as a title of address or reference for a duke, a duchess, or an archbishop
- a short prayer at a meal asking a blessing or giving thanks
- sense of propriety or
- had the grace not to run for elective office — Calvin Trillin
- the quality or state of
being considerate or thoughtful
- accepted his advice with grace
And as a verb it can mean:
- to confer dignity or
- The king graced him with the rank of a knight.
- ADORN, EMBELLISH
- graveled walks graced with statues — J. A. Michener
Then my simple Google search returned this: The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
I was numb. How had I missed so much meaning in such a little word? How had I become so immune to what God wanted for my life? Grace can be a sissy word — one of those words we use so frequently in the church that we forget what it is all about. What God wants for us, in his unmitigated grace for our lives. Not just in our salvation, but it is so much more!
Don’t get me wrong … I am not down-playing the grace that we receive in salvation. It is the first and foremost part of our lives. But I stopped there and started believing His grace is only in salvation. And, if I stopped at salvation I would have missed so much more for my life.
Paul writes about his weakness in 2 Corinthians 12. As men we don’t want to admit we are weak in any way, shape or form. I think it minimizes what we believe it means to be a man, or at least the stereotype we have been sold throughout our lives of what it means to be a man.
Paul had this weakness or affliction that he asked God to remove. I am wondering if he is down-playing it. In verse eight Paul says he begged God to remove this affliction three different times. He begged, pleaded, asked with deep want and desire that he have this thing removed from his life and God’s response was “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” God’s power works best in our weakness, our broken places. What kind of response is that?
If we want to see the power in our lives, we also need to see the brokenness. We need to be broken in order for God’s power to truly shine in us. We have to know the hurt we have inside in order for us to move beyond the surface-y day-to-day and into the grace God wants to give us.
I have talked to a number of men about an initial weekend with The Crucible Project. Some typical responses are:
- “I’m good”
- “I don’t think I need it”
- “I’m in a good place, thanks.”
I get it. I was in that same place when I went on my initial weekend. However, what I discovered on that initial weekend was that God wanted so much more for me. And the only way I was going to get it was by looking at my inner brokenness.
We all have broken parts. We don’t want to admit it, but we do. And this is the place where God wants to touch our lives and bring his power.
In the movie A Winkle In Time, Mrs. Who quotes 13th century Persian poet Rumi and states: “The wound is the pace where the Light enters.”
Isn’t this so true? Paul states the same thing in 2 Corinthians: In my weakness, you God, can show your power, (paraphrased by Pete). Where I am weak, you are strong.
The Japanese have an ancient practice call Kintsugi — the golden joinery — or Kintsukuroi — the golden repair. It is the practice of repairing broken pottery with gold. The crack is filled with lacquer and dusted with gold. Their philosophy is that the breakage and repair is part of the history and is not something to be covered up or disguised. Rather, it is celebrated and becomes part of the whole. And it is beautiful.
The crack is the place where the gold is.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? The place of our power, the place where we can be used most deeply by God, is also the place of our greatest weakness and brokenness. It is the place the enemy wants to throw his arrows and hurt us most deeply. It is also the place where we find gold; the place God wants to heal and restore and use for the greater power of the glory of His Kingdom.
I want to challenge you to push into these areas of your life and find the area God wants to reveal. Don’t sit on the sidelines thinking “I’m good.” Trust God. Dream Big. Be brave enough to go the darkest place that inflicts the greatest pain. This is the place you will find God in all his grace, and he will restore you with His Gold.
By Peter Aldrich
Peter completed his initial weekend in March of 2015 and is currently enrolled in our Two-Year Transformational leadership program. He has staffed various Crucible Project weekends in including Kenya in February of 2018. Peter is also a catalyst in bringing The Crucible Project to men in the northeast and building a community of Crucible men there. He part-owner of Cage Data an Information Technology, Managed Service Provider located in Connecticut.
Photo Credit: Lenny K Photography via Creative Commons