How Grace is Like Grace (and How Grace Isn’t)
One of the most vivid illustrations and daily reminders of God’s grace in my life is my daughter Grace. Actually, both my daughters, and my lovely wife before them, are daily reminders of God’s grace to me. But I’ve been making mental connections between nine year-old Grace and from-from-the-foundation-of-the-world grace since the former’s personality started taking dominion in her presence.
In fact, Grace is a lot like grace. Like grace, Grace is a friend to people of all kinds. I hope she never changes, because Grace is very at ease with kids and adults who look and act different. More than that, Grace thinks everybody’s handsome or beautiful. I’m not kidding. She seems naturally wired to see the best in everybody. Grace’s impartiality reminds me of the unpretentiousness of grace, how grace makes space for Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free, how grace reignites the imago dei in everybody it lays hold of.
Our Grace has the tenderest of hearts. She wouldn’t put it this way, not yet anyway, but she feels real Jesus-like compassion for people. When Grace sees a homeless man in town, she is broken for him. When Grace knows someone is sad, she feels sad for them. When Grace overhears mom and dad discussing a difficult issue, Grace later enters to offer to help in some adorable way. If Grace happens to overhear mom and dad mention a financial constraint, however minor, she offers up her piggy bank. Grace preemptively offers to be helpful. “Dad, can I have a bean bag chair for my room? I’ll pay you back for it.” Grace is always putting others first.
Like grace, Grace is unpredictable. Our little Grace is constantly moving, constantly singing, constantly bursting into song or silly voice or infectious groove. Like grace, Grace is surprising. She will pipe up, pitch in, and play her part at the most sudden of moments. Grace, like grace, keeps us on the edge of our seat and the tips of our toes.
Like grace, Grace has impeccable rhythm and timing, as well as the regularly spontaneous inclination to put them to blessed use. Grace dances like grace, skipping along on bouncy feet, flighty with fairy wings. What I mean is that Grace, like grace, is joyous. “I’m pretty much always happy,” she said the other day, apropos of nothing (nothing, that is, but grace). And Grace is the funniest person I know. She’s always making us laugh. Grace brings cheer wherever she goes, which is a lot like grace.
There are a few other ways that Grace is like grace, but there’s an important way Grace is not like grace. (We are constantly reminded that Grace needs grace for this.) Although our Grace moves at 100 miles per hour, although she’s nearly always running, nearly always in a hurry, when it’s time to go somewhere, she becomes the pokiest child on God’s green earth. If it’s time to leave for school or church, or if it’s time to leave the cousins’ house or the babysitter’s house, she takes her own sweet time. We are always waiting on Grace. Thank God, though, that we are not always waiting on grace. No, grace, unlike Grace, is always on time, always there when you need it, totally predictable in that sense. Because God is not slow in keeping his promises — as some count slowness, anyway — grace is always available at your time of need. Because God’s grace is timeless, it is always timely. So while Grace brings us much joy, we rejoice in her awesomeness best when we rejoice about Grace in grace.