I don’t get it, Mom. Why did Aunt Danielle get Ella all those pretzel bites?
Ella* was the only one who whined and cried on the drive and now she walks out with the pretzel bites. Just her—no one else. That does not seem right.
I had to agree. As much as I talk about grace and write about grace and stand in grace, I was caught off guard by my sister’s grace.
Why Grace Doesn’t Seem Right
Because from our inside the van perspective, Ella seemed the least deserving of a treat. Oh sure, our drive home from northern Michigan was fraught: six hours of torrid air conditioning, a steadily deflating rear tire and horrid Chicago traffic that delayed potty stops were perfect fodder for any grumbler.
Still, Gabe didn’t grumble.
But when we finally walked into the Lake Forest Oasis, Gabe didn’t get pretzel bites. Ella did. In fact, of all six cousins, only Ella did. Aunt Danielle bought a big cup of Auntie Anne’s pretzel bites just for Ella. A big cup of grace.
So no, Gabe, it doesn’t seem right. Because at its core, grace is undeserved favor. It comes in so many transforming shapes. But it is never earned or deserved. Grace is not just for good people.
We thing that God loves good people rather than that his love makes people good. But, as Jeremy Treat explains, the Bible is not a story of God looking for good people, but one of God redeeming sinful people.
Behold What Wondrous Grace
Behold what wondrous grace, Isaac Watts wrote. But did you know that you really can behold it? That you actually can see grace?
It’s not invisible like the wind. In Acts 11:23, we read how Barnabas arrived in Antioch and “witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all…”
Short rabbit trail, but I can’t help but think it is no coincidence that it is Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” who saw God’s grace. I’m not sure if it’s correlation or causation—if seeing grace makes one an encourager, or if encouragers simply see grace more clearly—but I know that encouragers see grace.
Regardless, sometimes we get to do more than merely see grace.
A Taste of a Pretzel Bite
Back in the Lake Forest Oasis parking lot, waiting beside a hot, disgruntled son, I shut my eyes and sighed.
You got it, Gabe. In a way, grace never seems right. Because we think of right as deserve. And we can never ever deserve grace. We can never ever earn the love of God. We can never ever pay our way to his favor.
We looked up. The cousins were coming. They were close enough to see Danielle’s grace. We saw the Auntie Anne’s salty nuggets in Ella’s hand.
Now Ella looked up at me, the selfsame aunt who had delayed our hot van from the potty stop that might have prevented her tears and distress.
Do you want to try one, Aunt Ab? She held out the cup. I took one hot, doughy, unmerited, unpaid for, and fully undeserved bite.
And it tasted all of grace.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions
—it is by grace you have been saved.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
*Not her real name
“Good Grace Stuff That Didn’t Make The Cut”
- On “5 Misconceptions of Grace” and “3 Enemies of Grace”: Jeremy Treat explains, “Confusion results because we don’t get grace; meaning, we receive it but we’re not transformed by it because we don’t understand it.”
- On being a “Grace Amnesiac”: Paul Tripp says we don’t need more grace. Rather, we need to understand and live in light of the grace God already gave us. Tripp explains the phrase, “grace amnesiac.”
- On grace being more than undeserved favor. It is. But, as John Piper explains, biblically it is so much more, including “the action or the power, which produces real, practical outcomes in people’s lives.”
- On tasting grace when our taste is gone: I share some spiritual lessons from the time my taste died. One nugget: Appetite comes by eating. Even when God’s Word of grace doesn’t taste good, keep eating.