As Christian and I sat there in the airport in Dallas surrounded by our bags and disappointment, it was a moment of true humanity and grace to let our heads touch as we asked God to help us through. We didn’t have to be strong. We didn’t have to do it on our own. We didn’t need to follow any rules or live up to any expectations. We just had to be honest and real.

We finally made it to Cancún two days late. But we were there. The three of us sat on the beach, side by side, as the sun was setting. Christian said, “Well, it sure took a while to get here, and I saw things no grandson of a Baptist should ever see, but God was with us every step.”

For me, that is the miracle of grace. Not that we finally made it to our vacation, but that God was with us every step—and an eleven-year-old boy knew it, even when our plans seemed to fall apart.

As I look back over my life, I can think of many times when this kind of situation happened and my response was very different. I know now that God’s grace was right there every single time, but sometimes I didn’t reach out and receive it. To have my hands free to receive grace, I have to be willing to let go of whatever I am clinging to.

Think about your own journey. Can you see in your own life how you are growing in grace, not just in the big moments but all those little moments that can rob us of peace and joy?

That’s Not Fair!

As I have watched my son grow in his understanding of grace, the greatest obstacle for him has been the way he often connects God’s favor to his behavior. Christian thinks when we do good things God applauds our righteous behavior, and when we slip and fall he frowns on us. (Do you know how hard it is for me as a mother not to let that belief sit there for a few more years, until he’s, say, thirty?) I have to tell him again and again God is not a Scout leader or an etiquette coach. His love is lavish and without repentance.

I think this is one of the hardest doctrines to wrap our hearts and minds around. There is something in us that wants to feel we have contributed in some way to whatever we receive. With the grace of God, we contribute nothing. That’s hard for us to swallow. We know we don’t bring as much as God does to the table, but we want to feel as if we’ve done our bit for the team! Not only that, but God’s grace is fresh every single day, which means you don’t have to rely on what was available yesterday. In fact, yesterday’s grace is stale. Yesterday’s grace was baked fresh by God for the events of yesterday, but today there is a whole new supply for every single thing you will walk through today.

Christian is not a big breakfast eater. He often runs out to shoot hoops with his friends on a summer morning with nothing more than the aftertaste of toothpaste in his system. Then he’ll come dragging in and say, “Mom, I’m starving!”

Do you ever find yourself spiritually starving halfway through your day? Fresh grace is available from the moment you open your eyes until you crawl back under the covers at night.

When we are satiated with God’s grace, it is much easier to extend grace to others; but when we are on starvation rations ourselves, we have little to spare.

There is also something in us that finds it hard to see that same lavish grace extended to those who seem particularly undeserving. Perhaps no parable illustrates that more clearly than one found in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus told the story of a vineyard owner who hired his first workers of the day at 6 a.m. and agreed on a wage of one dollar. He hired more field hands at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., and 5 p.m.

When it came time to pay the day’s wages, he told the foreman to begin with those who had worked only the last hour. When the workers who had sweated in the field all day realized that the tail-end stragglers were receiving one dollar, they were encouraged for a moment, assuming their own paycheck had been bumped up exponentially. Not so. They were given the same dollar as the rest. The workers who had worked all day were furious, and they appointed the loudest mouth in the group to complain to the manager. But the manager wouldn’t entertain their argument.