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GRACE – Winning the Race

By: Patty Joyce

The subject of this current blog, which I truly believe is Holy Spirit inspired, has a name…but I am having much difficulty filling in the gaps from beginning to end. However, the subject is not something that can be rushed. It requires Scripture references, historical data, and my inept attempt to convey my experience over the last several months.

The mysterious subject is grace. How does one describe this divine gift so lovingly given to those who trust in Christ?

Merriam Webster Dictionary briefly tells us the history and etymology (the origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning) of the word grace. It was first used as a noun in the 12th century. We currently define grace as benevolence, favor, indulgence, kindness, mercy, and service, to name a few. Sometime in 1585, it emerged as a verb, such as adorn, array, beautify, decorate, emboss, pretty up, and more according to the thesaurus.

But what about the grace that we, in Christendom, describe as unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; mercy and pardon.

In Genesis 6:8, we read where the first instance of grace is used in Scripture:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (KJV)

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew/2603 reads: to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to show favor, bestow, to show mercy, have pity upon. Several other versions use the word favor.

The last mention of this word is found in Revelation 22:21:

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (NIV)

Referring again to Strong’s Greek/5483, the definition turns to: grant as a favor, gratuitously, in kindness, pardon or rescue, deliver, forgive.

This usage of grace as a verb is somewhat different than the first mention in Genesis. Other than these two verses, there are several Scriptures that mention grace or favor.

Let’s bring this information into our daily life. God’s Word introduced us to grace. We sing about it, read about it, teach about it, and talk about it. But, is grace tangible? Can we physically feel it? Does it have a fragrance or color? How do we know when it is active and when it is still?

Romans 3:22-24 (NIV) says, ”This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) reads, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) tells us: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I never meditated upon or studied about what it accomplishes either by accepting it for myself or extending it to others as God has freely extended it to me.

Capturing the essence of grace in words is difficult, if not impossible, because it is of divine origin. I only know that during a difficult season of my life, my frustration, fatigue, impatience, lack of self-control, self-pity, and other ugly characteristics seemed to suddenly evaporate. I began to cope, not begrudgingly, but with love, gentleness, long-suffering, kindness, strength, and compassion. The change was obvious. I could actually feel my emotions becoming tender and giving. It was as if I could look inside myself and see my soul bright and clean. I thought, Is this God’s grace exchanging my weakness for His strength?

I ashamedly remember thinking, Why is this happening now—this is supposed to be the Golden Years, not more sacrifice, but a time of relaxation and enjoyment. How quickly our old nature raises its selfish head when we cease to surrender all to our Lord and ask that His will become our will. There are many others I know of whose walk seems impossible to me, but God’s grace carries them so much so that they are unconsciously Christ-like.

While driving home one morning and asking the Lord what I should write and how I should write it, this song began to play on my iPod – Were It Not for Grace by composers and lyricists David Hamilton and Phill McHugh. I believe this speaks for many of us:

Time measured out my days

Life carried me along

In my soul I yearned to follow God

But knew I’d never be so strong.

I looked hard at this world

To learn how heaven could be gained

Just to end where I began

Where human effort is all in vain.


Were it not for grace

I can tell you where I’d be

Wandering down some pointless road to nowhere

With my salvation up to me.

I know how that would go

The battles I would face

Forever running but losing this race

Were it not for grace.

So here is all my praise

Expressed with all my heart

Offered to the Friend who took my place

And ran a course I could not start.

And when He saw in full

Just how much His would cost

He still went the final mile between me and heaven

So I would not be lost.


Forever running but losing this race

Were it not for grace.

Grace. The intangible, and yet transforming gift of God for those who trust in Him. It may not be a substance to hold in our hands, but it is free, forgiving, unconditional, amazing, and indescribable. Know that it is yours. Rejoice in it, praise God for it. Share it with others – especially those who seek the peace, joy, strength, and love that can only come from the One who gave His life so we could win the race!

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