I did a radio interview last night, which will air this weekend in Grand Rapids. The interviewer, Ivy Donovan, asked me about the title for Ruth's story - why Redeeming Grace? Was there a theme to the story? First, I have to admit, I didn't pick the title - Revell gets the credit for that, but I do happen to love it because it fits the theme, not only of Ruth's story but of every story I write. Grace. Forgiveness. Redemption. Reconciliation. These themes pop up in my stories whether I want them to or not because that's who I am. They are an intricate part of me.
Grace. We hear a lot about grace these days, but I wonder if even I fully grasp what grace is in the context of God's economy. Grace, in biblical terms means "unmerited favor". I'm given a gift of God's favor without doing anything to earn or deserve it.
Grace is shown in so many ways in Scripture. Esther won grace and favor in the sight of the king. Sometimes I pray for someone to look on me with grace, especially if there is any doubt, which Esther certainly felt. Grace. Favor. Kindness.
Grace can also be the way we speak - our words are seasoned with grace toward others. Grace is also a new beginning. Scripture tells us that the law came through Moses (old covenant) but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (new covenant).
John tells us that, "And the Word (another name for Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Jesus embodied grace and truth. He granted favor to sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes, much to the chagrin and animosity of the Pharisees. He offers salvation to those who know they need it, through grace. "For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God lest anyone should boast."
We can't brag about grace. We can only bask in it's glory because it comes from God who loves us beyond all measure.
God gives grace to those He loves.
God gives grace to those who ask for it.
And that means anyone. He is no respecter of persons - in other words, he doesn't care if you are poor or rich, famous or unknown, what color your skin, what country you come from, your status in the eyes of the world. He isn't concerned with how far you think you have fallen - no one is exempt from His offer of grace.
And if we are truly honest with ourselves, we know in our hearts we are not all we should be. We know there is more to this life than what we see because God has placed eternity in our hearts.
We may worship all manor of other things but Jesus right now, but God knows where we are, what we think, what we long for. He knows our hurt, our pain, our past, our present, our future.
And He wants to be part of it all. Jesus didn't come here for the fun of living on earth. He gave up riches for poverty so that we could become rich in Him. He came because we needed grace. He came because no one else could offer us that grace.
The law tells us where we are wrong - has any single one of us never coveted? The law was given to show we can't keep it. Jesus came to offer us undeserved favor, grace--not to offer a way around the law but a way through the law. He fulfilled it so we don't have to. He redeemed us because we couldn't redeem ourselves.
Jesus. Lived. Grace. Redeeming Grace.
And that's why I love the story of Ruth and the title Revell gave her story. Because it fits exactly what the Old Testament story shows us. Boaz redeems Ruth to save her husband's family line and to restore what was broken in her life. Jesus redeems us to restore what is broken in ours.
All because of God's desire to show us unmerited favor. Offering us something we cannot earn because it is His delight to do so.
How truly amazing is grace? I don't think we can grasp the answer to that until we experience it for ourselves.
And I think once we taste grace, we will keep coming back wanting more.