The Discovery Work Of Grace
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)
If time spent at God’s throne of grace earns us spiritual frequent-flyer miles, I could say I’ve racked up a goodly amount in my walk with Christ, especially as of late. I’m in no way saying this to be braggadocious, as these many appearances before God are prompted by a humbling number of failings to fully trust Him with my needs.
The accuser tried to shame me over them at first. “You’re kidding. That again? What’s wrong with you?” Self-condemnation figured it would throw in its mean-spirited opinion as well. “All these years walking with the Lord and still you struggle with this. Tisk tisk.”
But as time marches on, I’m finding these oft-repeated visits to God’s throne of grace quite accommodating. Not that I come to receive the green light to continue in my sin of doubt and unbelief so His grace may abound, mind you. God forbid. How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?[i]If left alone, all these inapt bred-in-the bone inclinations would settle like sludgy sediment on the bottom. No, I find these visits accommodating because God keeps making room for me so He can filter out my gunk and enhance the sweet aroma of Christ in me.[ii]
Therefore let us draw near with confidence. Draw near. Not shamefacedly with tail tucked between my legs. The blood of Christ invites me time and again to draw near with an honest and sincere heart, in full assurance of faith [iii] It’s the one-and-only safe place where I get to let my guard down, to be gut real and bring my raw, ugly imperfections (those I dare not disclose to anyone else), into the presence of Perfection. [iv]
That we may receive mercy. I need not fear rejection; God’s mercy welcomes repentance every time. New mercies. Sure mercies. Every morning. Because Christ’s cleansing blood is enough.[v] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.[vi]
Yet, I can’t help but think how yawningly mechanical repentance would be if my relationship with God consisted solely of receiving mercy when I repent. How lonely it would be to exist on; “Sorry, God.” Delete. “Sorry, God.” Delete. A mere delete button to remove unwanted issues from the texts of our lives, He is not. Neither is He like airport security that screens my soul’s baggage for prohibited items before I board the heaven-bound plane. He takes this visit to His throne to the next step.
. . . and find grace to help in time of need.
I must admit, this part gave me pause at first. Find grace. Why would we get to receive the one (mercy), but have to find the other (grace)? If God is able to make all grace abound to us and He so graciously gives us all things, why would He withhold when we ask for help? [vii]Surely this isn’t like the game of pinata where blindfolded ones beat the air with their little faith sticks, hoping to strike that victory blow with God so His grace goodies spill out!
I’m learning that find is more a discovery word than one that withholds. For starters, self-discovery. It starts with a pressing need that causes me distress. Knowing better than to think I can square things away on my own, I show up at God’s throne of grace with my request for Him to intervene.[viii] It’s all about escape at this point. Move it, change it, soothe it, impart it, supply it. Just fix it, God! Can we get a little relief over here?
If things persist, I figure, well then, my need must lie within. Somewhere beneath the rubble of unbelief and anxious fears, trapped between my soul and spirit and the deepest parts of my nature, is the powerful treasure of faith.[ix] That’s what God is after; simple trust in Him. In all my strivings to rid myself of this irksome need, and my lonely yearnings for God’s intervention, I forgot to labor to enter His rest.[x]
So, I lay down my prideful self-sufficiencies, repent of my sins. And I receive mercy.
What I need is to find grace. A fresh vein of God’s empowering presence—one I never dreamed was accessible to me—is waiting to be discovered. God knew I would never search for it (and find it) had I not first experienced need.[xi] Like Jacob when he discovered through his ladder dream that God’s presence was right there with him in the desert, we too can discover, through the ladder of grace, the new reality of God’s presence meeting us in our needs. It’s the place where our deficiencies meet His sufficiency and we, too, cry, "Surely the Lord was in this place, and I was not aware of it!" [xii]
We’ve walked with the Lord too long to believe we are sufficient in ourselves. So, shouldn’t God’s throne of grace be our frequent go-to place where His presence strengthens our grip on Christ, and empowers us to stay victorious in faith—in the midst of, in spite of, and as the fulfillment of our need?[xiii]
That's the discovery work of grace, and it’s beautiful.
[i] Romans 6:2 [ii] Zephaniah 1:12; Jeremiah 48:11–12; Malachi 3:2–4; Ecclesiastes 10:18–19; Isaiah 55:1–2 [iii] Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 10:22–23 [iv] Psalm 32:4–7 [v] Acts 13:34; 2 Corinthians 7:10 [vi] 1 John 1:9–10; Hebrews 12:22–24; Psalm 103:12 [vii] 2 Corinthians 9:8–9; Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 9:26 [viii] 2 Corinthians 3:5 [ix] Hebrews 4:12 [x] Hebrews 4:9–11 [xi] Romans 5:2; Grace – God’s empowering presence that enables you to become the person God sees when He looks at you (Graham Cooke) [xii] Genesis 28:16 [xiii] 2 Corinthians 3:5; MacLaren’s Expositions on Hebrews 4:16; 2 Corinthians 12:9