I’m working on a book at the moment about how the Bible is relevant and uplifting in my day-to-day modern life. It’s a bit like a journal showing how different Bible verses have impacted me. I shared an extract a while ago, here.
Last week I was at home a lot and added several chapters to the book. This week I again find myself unwell and in one of the hardest emotional situations I have ever faced. I’ve been reading back over last week’s writing and this chapter resonated again with me, so I thought I would share it with you.
When I started working for an Anglican church I was bewildered several times when it was suggested that we ‘say the grace’. I thought that this was a rushed ‘thank-you-for-our-food’ type prayer said before eating, so when at 8am in the morning, other staff started mumbling some words in unison I was completely lost. It turned out that ‘the grace’ was this sentence from 2 Corinthians, memorised and spoken as a prayer by many groups of Christians in many different situations, usually with the final ‘you’ changed to ‘us’:
‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’ 2 Corinthians 13:14
I quickly learnt it, helped along by the children’s versions that had actions! I also quickly came to appreciate it, and now again as I read it this morning those three things – grace, love, fellowship – seem like the most important things in all the world.
Where would I have been without those three things in all the losses, failures and struggles of my past? And where would I be, now, as I face more heartbreak?
Without grace, love and fellowship, I would be utterly lost.
With them though, I am rich, whatever else I may lack.
Grace is this miraculous thing because it is goodness that transcends circumstance. It means that whatever I have done, whoever I have become, whatever I have been through, I am still blessed. There is still goodness poured over me, in me, around me, even out of me – and far more than I could ever deserve.
Love is this miraculous thing because it empowers, frees, holds and comforts. Love can overcome all kinds of obstacles that nothing else could. While I am loved, I can go on.
Fellowship is this miraculous thing because even when I am weak, I am not alone. When one falls down, another helps them up. When one strand of a cord is broken, the other strands hold firm (Ecclesiastes 4).
Jesus doesn’t just give me grace, Jesus is grace. He was goodness itself, springing up out of poverty and obscurity, welcoming anyone and everyone, bringing acceptance and hope. He came and lived the life I could not so he could ‘redeem’ me, bring me back to God. Because of him, I am considered a child of God, and God pours his goodness into my life.
God has loved me since the beginning of time – so much that He was willing to give up everything for me. Nothing can separate me from his love (Romans 8), and so I can always go on.
God’s Spirit is my Helper (John 14), with me every day, journeying with me, counselling me. I met a guy recently, a refugee from Afghanistan. He says that through all the journeys he has taken, the Holy Spirit has been like a shadow to him, guiding him on which way to go and never leaving him – a vivid picture of intimate fellowship with God. The other thing that the Holy Spirit does is strengthen my fellowship with other Christians. When one of us is in need, the others step up to help. So many people have prayed for us and cared for us this week and I am so grateful for them all.
So thank you Jesus for your grace and thank you God for your love and thank you Spirit for your fellowship. Where would I be without you?