Immediately following our wedding, Peggy and I drove to New York to begin a three-year commitment to serve in the Koinonia Community, a camp and retreat center in the Delaware River Valley. Those first three years would come to shape our marriage, our personalities and our professions. What I learned during that time about grace, though, remains the most enduring experience.
The director, Pr. Bob, had a way of challenging you to confront the grace needs of your neighbor before dealing with your own. It was a phenomenal lesson to learn, but it was a difficult and challenging path to take. People of faith often talk about grace in the most beautiful and profound ways. Yet, when I hear these words, I wonder if the speaker has truly wrestled with the demands of grace.
We love receiving grace. It’s often the difference maker in a broken life on the edge of collapse. We’ve also got plenty of stories about people who have denied us grace. But, it’s the grace we give that is demanding.
The thing we love about receiving grace is it’s an undeserved, unearned, free gift. It is to the receiver, but the giver of grace must pay a price. I’m not just talking about Jesus on the cross now. For you and I, we must confront the reality the person we are giving it to does not deserve it, nor has that person earned it. Yet, we know if we give it there is life.
Today, in Matthew, Jesus talked about the narrow gate. (Mt. 7:14) Immediately my mind went to giving grace, not receiving it. “The gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life.” But, it does lead to life.