Thankful!

For God's Uncommon Grace

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I’ll bet you “say grace” most of the time before a meal, right? Especially at Thanksgiving.

But what do you think about when you “say grace?” What kind of grace do you have in mind?

There’s more than one variety of grace, you know. Now, I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of what some call “special grace.” In “special grace” (also called “irresistible” grace) the Holy Spirit of God continues to apply pressure to the resisting will of the non-Christian until He overwhelms it. But to me this makes God a bit of a spiritual bully, willing to take a crowbar to my rusted soul to make me turn to His indomitable will. He will not drag anyone kicking and screaming into heaven. He will allow the rich young man to turn away (Matthew 19:16-30).

“Common grace,” on the other hand, is tolerated by many Christians as a kind of pitiable stepchild of special grace. “Common” grace is thus often understood negatively, that is, in terms of what it cannot do. Common grace cannot save an unregenerate person.

But what we should emphasize about common grace is the undeserved provision of an antidote to the infection of sin that quarantines us from God and alienates us from one another. The divine initiative evident in “common” grace fails to amaze because we tend to measure the extraordinary character of this brand of grace by the standard of its effect (salvation) rather than the fact that it is ready to hand, and, incredible as it sounds, available for all humanity.

Also, the unfortunate adjective “common” dilutes our appreciation for His grace. “Common” (contra “special”) suggests that which is vulgar, unrefined, unsophisticated. But every demonstration of His grace, no matter how seemingly low-born, should inspire wonder and humility (Job 7:17; Psalm 8:4).

So, I am thankful for His grace. Period. Because we are all recipients of His uncommon grace.

This Thanksgiving, look for evidence of His grace. It’s everywhere.

Here’s one place I recently found His uncommon grace:

A reunion of old friends in the West Theater in George West, Texas following my performance of “Joseph: Adopted.” Jeff and D’Anna, thanks for your musical talent and for sharing the stage with me. Many of the folks there I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. Some, like John Ed Holland and Frank Sales were my teachers. Some, like Cindy and Tracy Smith, and Sharon Isley were my high school friends, grown dearer over the years. Willie James and I played sports together. Willie is an encourager. Mackie Garcia walked off the graduation stage and stepped into 2016, looking and sounding exactly the same — exuberant, joyful — as when we were both 17.

And Mrs. Pawlik, my drama and English teacher for 6 of my 12 years of school, and the one responsible for inviting me to this gig — an emissary of God’s love, creativity, and faith. She models the godly artist and continues to provide a model for what a teacher should be.

This Thanksgiving, I invite you to look around before you say grace. You won’t have to look far to see it — God’s grace that is.

And wherever you find it, you will discover it to be uncommon indeed.

For that, we can all say grace.

And, “amen.”

 

 

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