The fury of grace
by Jay Kim
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. – John Mark McMillan
I love these lyrics from John Mark McMillan’s song How He Loves. They express a sort of grace that is more honest and true than the deceptive facsimile I often conjure up in my head. For many of us, grace has become a tourniquet to stop the bleeding when sin cuts us open. For others of us, grace is a resting place visited from time to time when in need of respite from the rigors of a self-indulgent life. And for some, grace is simply an acceptance letter into eternity, set aside, to be dusted off when the next life begins its approach. But I am beginning to see grace as something else entirely.
Grace is not a tourniquet for covering self-inflicted wounds. Grace cuts into us, into parts of us deeper than sin could ever reach and it heals us from the inside.
Grace is not a fixed place in life where we can rest at our own convenience. Grace is everywhere, saturating the air, filling our lungs, giving us life even when we don’t realize it.
Grace is not something to be set aside and dusted off sometime in the future. Grace is a present reality, consuming our space, compelling us to live out the ways of the next life in this one.
I had a friend named Grace in college. She was petite, gentle, and sweet. She spoke softly and giggled often. I used to think her name captured her personality well. I was wrong. Grace is not soft nor is it sweet. The grace of God is fury and fire. It rushes at us more violently than we expect most times and often takes us by surprise. Sometimes, grace burns and breaks us for the sake of remaking and rebuilding us. Grace will hurt us in order to heal us, but it will never harm us.
John Mark McMillan was on to something. Grace is indeed an ocean. Its waves rush and roar toward the shores of our shortcomings and failures. They crash against the jagged edges of the messes we’ve made and they chip away at them. And as grace crashes into us, over and over again, we find ourselves looking more and more like the people of God, reshaped and transformed by the sheer power of his furious grace.
And we are all sinking.