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Thoughts on Grace

You may have noticed that the theme of this site is grace – A Journey of Grace. Maybe you wonder why I chose that theme. If you know me very well, you probably know that grace is my favorite subject. When I was working on my doctorate of ministry, we were asked to say what name God would give us if God were to rename each of us. I knew the answer for me right away. Grace. My name would be grace because God has had to give me so much grace in my lifetime. And while that is true, I had actually wished my name was Grace long before we were asked that question. That was my grandmothers name and I wondered why I couldn’t have been named after her instead of given the name Sharlyn. Sharlyn was the name of one of my dads old girlfriends which I didn’t find all that meaningful. And you know that there has never been a time when I’ve been able to look up the meaning of my name or find it on any of those keychains or door signs. It was nonexistent. I have come across a few other women named Sharlyn over the years. I wonder if they too were named after my dad’s old girlfriend. (Joking)


Back to grace. Just what does it mean? The Oxford dictionary says one definition is that means a person is poised or elegant – as in moving gracefully. My mom did sometimes call me Grace but it was more of a teasing kind of thing – like when I bumped into something or tripped. While she wasn’t being mean it was still not very meaningful.


One of my favorite definitions of grace is from whatsinthebible.com/what-is-grace-christian-meanings: Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.” It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing.


You see, that truly is what I have experienced over and over in my life – Gods unconditional love for me even when I failed terribly to honor Gods Word and love Him back. Even in those times in my younger years when I could see nothing lovable in myself, I would come to find grace, love, and acceptance from my heavenly Father. (I know some people use other names for God but I find comfort in thinking of Him as my Father. It is intimate and it is what I have needed in my life.) Often times, that grace came to me from either the scriptures or from a mentor or someone I looked up to in the church. Through their love, I experienced Gods love and grace.


There have been times in my life when I felt I was such a failure I could not see how God could love or forgive me. As a young person, I had a strong sense of God calling me to ministry but I ran the other way, wanting to do my own selfish thing. When I went through a divorce, I felt I had hit rock bottom and I believed God was surely finished with me at that point. Whatever that call to ministry had been I thought it was no longer valid.


The psalmist writes in Psalm 40:2: He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.


That is what I have known. He drew up out of that pit when I could not save myself. He set me upon a solid rock and put me on a new secure path. That is grace. For 23 years I’ve had the privilege of serving in ministry, preaching the gospel, telling about God’s grace, reaching out to others who are in need.


My journey of grace is about my life. It’s about the ups and downs, the successes and failures of a person (me) who is forgiven and loved in spite of herself. It is about looking back and seeing how, even in the lowest places in my life, God was there beside me, sometimes carrying me, always loving me. God takes those moments of joys and sorrow, of failures and successes and uses it all to make us who we are today. And if we are willing, He will use us in ways we thought we could never be used to serve Him. And God will give us joy beyond our greatest imagination in that serving.


This journey of grace is mine but it is also for you because we all have our own journeys; our own hills and valleys; our own successes and failures. We have times when we feel great about ourselves but I believe many of us have moments (sometimes long moments) when we feel worthless, unloved and like we have fallen to the bottom of that dark, miry pit.

Grace – God’s amazing, unconditional love is yours as well as mine. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved! You are unconditionally loved. Not by anything you have or haven’t done but because you are a child of God.


May the grace of God surround you, fill you and inspire you this day and always.

Sharlyn

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© 2020 by Dr. Sharlyn DeHaven Gates