‘Grace’, in chinese, is 恩.
That’s also the first letter of my chinese name – 恩高 (en1 gao1), which translates to ‘high grace’, or a lot of grace.
I was telling dani and gid in the long car ride tonight (and dav and lcs on fb chat the past few days, and everyone in this fb post* back in 2014) that I am terribly aware of the immense grace that it has taken for my life to reach this point now
I remember primary school. There was an autistic kid in my class, and back then I didn’t know what ‘autism’ meant, I just knew that if I took his eraser he would cry, which was strange – it’s just a 30c eraser – so I would do it again, and again, and watch.
And in army, when I was older and had a far larger capacity for cruelty, I used my words to humiliate a certain serviceman. He had irritated me by throwing his authority around, and I wanted to take him down a peg, I pretended to inquire about pushups, and how to do variants of pushups, and at the end of my sly, manipulative words he got down on the tarmac, mid-day, and did a set. When he got up and smiled, his knuckles were bleeding.
So it amazes me, like the me inside me, that people would think of me as kind, and as good, and as safe, and trustworthy, and even humble… just all these things that I know I am not. When I am left to my own devices and thrown out there all puffed up on pride, I can be an absolutely horrible person. Religion does nothing to fix that – if anything, it gives me more ammunition for self-righteousness, and more tools that I can use to conceal how awful my heart can get when I let it.
But 2000 years ago (give or take a few), there was a man from Nazareth who, at the age of 33, carried a wooden cross up Calvary Hill to spill his blood for my ransom. And it’s a ‘ransom’ because i don’t deserve to do all those things and just walk away scot free. A price has to be paid. And despite all the theology that i’ve chomped up and swallowed down, I still find it hard to explain why.. how I could be possibly worth that much to anyone.
You see, one would scarcely die for a righteous person. But God showed His love for me in this – that while i was still distant and far away, Christ died for me so that I could be brought near.
And ‘death’ hardly even begins to capture it – have you ever done something that bogged you down with how wrong it was? have you ever struggled with guilt, or self-worth, or loneliness, or fear? 1 Peter 2 says that the “sin of the world” was “laid upon His shoulders”, Isaiah 53 that He was “crushed for our iniquities”.
So this is the Cross. The place where all the suffering that I deserve met with all the grace that I do not deserve, and the spoiler is that grace wins, and because of grace i now live not for myself, but for Christ who loved me and gave His life for me, that I might in turn give mine for others to know Him and be loved by Him.
Have a Blessed Good Friday, friends 🙂