What is Grace?

What can I say about Grace? How can I define it? Rumi writes, Give up to grace. The ocean takes care of each wave ’til it gets to shore. You need more help than you know.”

Emma Curtis Hopkins called it “Free Grace.” A gift that only has to be accepted.  “Every way you turn, rear-ward, forward, to right, to left, angels on angels working your miracles for you. Did you ever expect one blessing but have two instead? That was free grace. The thief on the cross asked only for one thought, and he got all heaven. This was free grace. How often Jesus taught that something would go before me, plead my cause and defend me. This is free grace.

What is Grace?  Perhaps it is like a big free food buffet, waiting there with a multitude of different delicious choices. It’s there, but we can’t take part in it unless we go up to the buffet and take it.

I grew up in the Catholic world and Grace was for sinners. I had to rely on the Grace of Jesus Christ because he was perfect and he died for my sins.  I would never be saved at all if I didn’t repent and kneel down and ask for forgiveness. I knelt. I went to confession. I even made up sins so I could get forgiven. My life went through ebbs and flows. I didn’t think of Grace much.  I still wallowed in my problems. My life didn’t have the deep joy that I didn’t even know I was seeking.

Then one day, I understood something else. I found the New Thought teaching. I was responsible for my destiny. I was responsible for that deep joy that I wanted to experience, not by forcing it or by working the program (and I did many programs), but by surrendering to a Power greater than I am and letting it guide and direct me, as me, through me. Living by Grace I understood was an act of surrender. Everything was here for me and all I had to do was receive it.

Rumi wrote, “Limp along until your legs are spent, and you fall flat and your energy is drained. Then the grace of the Divine will lift you.”

I remember a time I just couldn’t get myself out of debt. I was limping through the financial experiences of my life. I finally felt flat on my face and my energy was drained. I remember that moment of surrender. I said, “Okay, I’ve done all I can. I’m ready to surrender. I am done doing this by myself.” Who was I talking to? It wasn’t an outside God. It was that place within me, within all of us that knows everything. There was a feeling that I am going to be okay now.  Because I got out of the way of my own good, I was able to hear the promptings of my own intuition that guided me through to safety.

I remember a physical challenge I had when I was sitting waiting for a Doctor’s diagnosis. I sat on the end of the examining table, just waiting. I surrendered. I was looking at a beautiful tree outside the window. I am that. I am part of that. I felt a sigh of surrender. I knew that whatever came through that door, I was up to it. I would be all right no matter what.

So, what is Grace? Grace is something we are all born with. It is a gift, and there is nothing we can do to get it, but to receive it and accept it. We have to get what Emerson would call “our bloated nothingness out of the way.” We have to open the doorway to Grace. It is a Power that lies within our own being. When we are following our own path of bliss and joy, Grace is there with us. It is guiding. It is opening doors. It takes faith to give over to Grace, but it is the only way to experience it.

It is about stepping into our True Selves. Grace moves through us when we realize that we are Grace and let it live as our life. Grace will open a door that is locked. Grace will bring everything into balance and harmony. We are meant to be happy. We are meant to live in joy. We are meant to take our unique place in this world and give our ego selves up.

There are steps to recognizing and receiving Grace more easily than waiting for a catastrophe: Michael Beckwith wrote, “What I can confidently share is that meditation, interior affirmative prayer, selfless service, spiritual study; these are universal spiritual practices that have brought self-realized beings into such surrendered states of consciousness that all sense of “I” is lost in mystical union with Beloved.”

This is Grace. “A mystical union with the Beloved.”

I heard a story about Ernest Holmes when he was confronted by a frantic secretary who was worried and frenzied about how to get things done because the electricty had gone out. Ernest very simply said, “Let’s pray.  His prayer was: “God, this is Ernest. Need I say more?” Of course, the elecricity came on.

Ernest could have that confidence because he was living in a state of Grace. We all have this capability. We are all living in a state of Grace. The only question is do we realize it? Are we willing to give up fear and doubt and walk confidently in faith? Are we willing to live our joy? Are we willing to move our ego out of the way and live more of our God self?

If it’s too much to just jump in, the good thing is that we can start right where we are and grow in Grace a little each day.

 

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