Of Grit and Grace

n the opening segment of the 2011 remake of the classic movie True Grit, which originally starred John Wayne, there is a pleasant surprise in the narration. As the woman reflects back on the murder of her father she reminds the audience “You must pay for everything in this world one way or another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God.”
As I think how God must have orchestrated getting that by the Hollywood censorship folks it occurs to me that Satan has not yet won; the Holy Spirit of God still moves, though subtly at times; and depraved people do recognize the basic need of man to know God is gracious, and it sometimes helps sell movies.
While I still hesitate to recommend True Grit due to some language and subject matter, it is cleaner than most Hollywood products. I can often forgive the raw honesty people put in to their stories if the message of grace comes through strong and clear. Les Miserable’s is another such movie; and a little flick called Simon Birch shares more youthful lust than I am comfortable with but the grace covers the sin and leaves a message of faith ringing in your ears long after the credits roll.
Is this sufficient in real life to recognize the grace of God long before the repentance has begun? Maybe, maybe not…I don’t know; but one thing I do know, repentance makes no sense without grace.
Grace started it all. The promise of forgiveness is the only light leading out of depravity.
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
The Evangelist Paul Washer tells a story of going to lunch with a group of men from a Church he visited and spoke at. When they sat down at the restaurant Washer put his Bible next to his plate. The unorthodox young man who waited on them said excitedly, “Dude! You got a Bible! Man, I got one of those too!” and proceeded to describe sorted details of his former life that made the “good men” of the church cringe. The Evangelist was able to remind the misguided laymen at the table that the starting point for grace is different for some. Sometimes you have to know how far someone has come to recognize the work of grace. Though the young man had far to go God was working in this life and regenerating him.
If I never grow, in this life, to reach beyond where you began, am I less a product of the grace of Jesus Christ? James said “faith without works is dead”, but do MY works have to equal YOUR works for my faith to be alive?
I’m not saying it’s that simple, but I AM saying I don’t know. I don’t know if you’ve changed enough; if your faith is strong enough – but if my own weakness will not be covered by grace why do I continue to repent? Why does my shame humble me and my sin bring me to my knees day after day? Grace must be sufficient, after all, isn’t that what faith is all about?
There is a joy and an unexplainable peace that comes over me when I get to talking about grace with someone who knows its worth. I know not how much Christ paid for me; I doubt I could count the cost. But I know He didn’t do it so I would be good, He did it so one day I COULD be good.
Grace is not the down payment on your life; it’s a “cash out” – lump sum – “It is finished” deal; providing you have the faith to receive it. If sin breaks your heart, HALILUAH, grace will put it back together again. When you find you LIKE obeying Jesus I’d say you may know what grace means! And when you recognize how very much you need it you appreciate that it is free.