To me grace is everything. In a world where so much is imperfect, broken, painful and unreliable I depend on grace to get through the day. Grace is often defined as unmerited favor. This opens the door to all kinds of interpretations by theologians and scholars, but what does that mean for you and me in our everyday lives?
Unmerited means unearned, and favor means good thoughts, feelings, and actions. In our world that is any good thing offered on behalf of another with no thought to whether they deserve it. I think that looks an awful lot like unconditional love.
I believe the root of grace is in love. Scripture tells us that God is Love and that we come to understand love because God loved us first, without our initiative. God loved us first, before we knew who God was. God loved us first, before we could comprehend our need for God. God loved us first, in that initial spark of creation.
God loved. God loves. God will continue to love into eternity.
Do you know that God loves you? Not just a random person, or humanity in general, but you!
When I tell my kids I love them after they’ve had a bad day, they roll their eyes at me. “Mom, you have to say that. You’re my mom!” I understand, I used to feel the same way! Sometimes we feel that way about God’s love. God has to love me, God is God. We shrug it off because we do not understand the great value and worth God has imparted to each one of us.
Of course I love my children, they are an extension of myself. They carry my image around in the world. They will possibly pass my marvelous genetics on to the next generation, and even if they don’t that makes them all the more precious. I love my children. I delight in them. I sometimes get so exasperated at their humanness, but it doesn’t stop my love for them.
God loves us in the same way. God sees us, the real deep-down-hidden self that lies buried beneath layers of masks, and God responds to that truth with Love. Not in spite of who we are, not just setting aside our mess, God loves us in the middle of our mess and longs to lead us to wholeness.
If I only ever have the chance to say this to you, dear reader, please take it to heart. God loves you more than you can comprehend, and God is closer than you can imagine. Living in light of those truths allows us to operate in strength and power given to us without a thought to whether we deserve them. It allows us to offer healing, hope, and a helping hand to those around us with the same freedom. We live in grace, and we exercise that grace in the world around us.
My hope through writing and speaking is to present these truths to the hearts and minds of all who will see or hear this work.
Blessings in Christ,
Charity Kemper Sandstrom is serving in her twelfth year as Pastor of First Friends Church, Emporia, KS. Charity has spoken at colleges, events and retreats for women, and as a guest speaker at community events. Notably, she was asked to speak at her community’s Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration service in 2017. Also in 2017, Charity received First Prize in the Forgiveness Sermon Challenge by Plpit.com, a project of the STAR Office at Fuller Theological Seminary. Charity is currently writing for an online subscription community TheJesusBanquet.com, and is looking forward to the launch of her first book Quaker Queries for All Seasons.
As a Quaker, Charity is captivated by the mindful practice of asking spiritual questions, or Queries as Friends call them. Charity has been writing queries for her church for the past decade, including queries for specific holidays and seasons. Her upcoming book is a new work of sixty queries that one could use alone or with a group to search their conscience, seeking to grow closer to Christ.