I have recently been re-exposed to the fragility of life : how it hangs by a very thin thread, how we can't control what happens to us and how Grace is all that really keeps that thread from breaking at any moment. 

I then started reflecting on epitaphs, those sentences we leave on our tombstones for all of prosterity to see. The questions started flooding in: What sentence would define me ? What words would best describe my dreams, my goals, my aspirations, my achievements, my relationships ? We are such complex people, how can it all be reduced to one last saying ? If the passerby knew absolutely nothing about me, what could I tell them ? What do I really stand for ? What is at my core ?

I searched my soul for the basic truths I hold more than anything else. I have found 3:

  1. I was loved enough for Him to send his Son and graced enough to put my faith in Him
  2. The highest achievement I could reach is to be like Christ. And I take John 1:14,17's description of Him as my personal daily guide : 'filled with Grace and Truth'
  3. My purpose on this planet is to receive from God what he sends me and share with others

And while I don't expect my epitaph to be written soon, it was a blessing to reflect on what it would say. 

GraceGuy - He strove to be like Christ, Filled with Grace and Truth; From above, overflowing to others
I often find myself expecting Grace to be given after a few prayers or an intense but short time with God. And then, I get disappointed or give up on the request when it doesn't come at my speed. It mustn't be in God's will, I foolishly rationalize.

I am then reminded of the heroes of faith, who were promised a certain Grace and had to wait years for it -  despite some often questionable actions during that waiting period. 

Noah was promised to be saved from a devastating flood at 500 years old. He built an ark for years (100 at most) while being mocked by his peers. He was then in the ark for a little more than 1 year. He was graced with life and he saw the promise-rainbow.

Abraham was promised to be the father of a great nation, at 75 years old, while being childless. He waited 25 years in which he lacked faith, took some horrible decisions to accelerate God's plan, assumed his way was better than God's. He was graced with a child.

Isaac, Abraham's son, was the child of promise and was saved from being sacrificed. He waited 20 years before he was graced with twin boys.

Jacob waited 14 years to marry the woman he loved. He waited more than 20 years to reunite with a favored son he thought was dead. He was graced with joy and a full life.

Joseph dreamt of greatness. He was then sold to slavery by his brothers, unjustly sent to jail for keeping his integrity and forgotten in jail by those who promised to vouch for him. Joseph waited nearly 20 hard years. He was graced with greatness.

Moses was 40 when he decided to associate himself with Israel as their deliverer.  It was not in God’s timing, and after having taken matters into his own hands and killing an Egyptian, he fled into the wilderness of Midian.  There he married, had two sons, and met God at the burning bush when he was 80.  So at 80 years of age, Moses marched back into Egypt and demanded the release of the Jewish people, which he led out of Egypt across the Red Sea.  Then, after Israel's disobedience, he wandered for another 40 years in the desert. Moses waited a total 80 years before seeing the grace God promised him: the Promised Land.

Job did not even know what was happening to him. The richest man in his time, he lost everything (including his children) and had no explicit promise of grace to hold on to. For months, he suffered the worst kinds of pain, unswayed by his friends' bad advice, staying faithful to God. He was graced with double of everything he had.

David was annointed king at around 20 years old and waited until he was 30 to be crowned. He waited another 7.5 years to reign over all of Israel. During that time, he killed Goliath, he played the harp in Saul's court, he fled to the wilderness to evade Saul's pursuit and he became the champion of the oppressed. He was graced with a kingdom and a lineage that would produce the Saviour.

Simeon the Righteous was promised to see the Christ before his death. He was an old man when he was graced to hold Jesus in his arms. The prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying for close to 14 years. She was graced to see him at 84 years old and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Jesus spoke in the temple at 12 years old and then waited 18 years to begin his public ministry. He knew of the hardships to come and yet still pursued. During His ministry, He was mocked, hated, used, misunderstood and reviled. Before Jesus arrived at the cross He patiently trained the disciples. Even after His miracles and proclamations of being the Son of God, the disciples were often confused as to who Jesus was. Jesus was still trying to teach them how to persevere in prayer up until the moment He was taken in the garden to be crucified. At the cross, He endured the worst death penalty created by man to give believers access to the Father. He was Grace and Truth incarnate. He recieved resurection, glory, power and dominion over everything. 

He is the ultimate example of waiting for the promised grace God gives us.

Grace. It sometimes takes time... but it's worth it!

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