From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.John 1:16-17 (NRSV)
I was a senior in high school when I attended LifeLight with my youth group. Camping out in tents, meals on the grill, and cars humming in the background to charge cell phones! LifeLight was a multi-day Christian music festival in the Middle of Nowhere, South Dakota. It was my first introduction to Family Force 5, the inspiration for purses made out of ties, undercooked frozen pizza on the grill, and the weekend of flattened air mattresses.
It was also the weekend of amazing friends, goosebump inducing moments, and laughter that echoed for years to come.
On the final night of the festival, Chris Tomlin was the headliner on the main stage. Our youth group sat toward the back with blankets spread out over prickly grass and exhausted heads resting on the shoulders of friends. Despite the desperate need for sleep, worshiping with 20,000+ in a field was an unforgettable and moving experience.
At some point I pulled my focus from the stage and looked around, taking in the moment I wasn’t going to experience again any time soon. Behind us, lit up by the light of the moon, was a tall cross. It was skinny and looked somewhat fragile, but it was there – a steadfast reminder of the love of Christ, holding us tightly and never letting go. Filled with a reminder of grace, I quickly returned my attention to the performance, determined not to miss a moment.
Wandering back to our campsite, that cross was always in view. No matter which direction we turned, how far we walked, I could see it. It was as though the cross watched over us, keeping us safe and loved, holding our burdens tightly and carrying them with us through the night.
At the campsite, I sat outside on a log for several minutes, not quite ready to give up this reminder of grace that was keeping warm. Staring at this reminder of what had been done for me, I cried.
I cried tears of joy for the love I was gifted by the Creator.
I cried tears of sorrow for all of the days I doubted and feared that I was unlovable.
I cried tears of relief, knowing I wasn’t walking alone.
I cried tears of thanksgiving, knowing grace gave me a second chance.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that grace exists, that God created this world, these people, and called it good.
But I think back to the cross. The tall, lanky cross. It’s a symbol of hope for so many of us, a reminder of promises and goodness. But the cross is a source of pain, of fear for Jesus and the people of his time. Yet, through Jesus’ death on it – a death that was never deserved or earned – it has been redeemed. Just as the cross is never the same, neither am I.
Some days I’m scared… of who I am, of the mistakes I have made and will make, of whether or not I can ever deserve the people, the love, the grace I’ve been given.
Yet, I remember that we live in an assurance of grace upon grace, a never ending stream of love and redemption. Grace isn’t something we can control, but rather we receive it. To fully receive this gift, we must accept it. We must know that grace is neither deserved nor earned, but holds steadfast as we strive to live in the light of faith.
In the promise of grace and its effect on who we choose to be, how we choose to live.
All in response to the gift of grace upon grace.
Forever and ever.