I dipped a brush in the small bottle and hovered over the oval of wood on my desk.  In a swift stroke, before I could change my mind, the tip met the surface.  There was no going back now... the gold line curved and twisted and surged from one end to the other.  


After the paint dried, I noticed a shadow behind the metallic word.  Faint pencil tracing appeared, revealing where my brushstroke overlapped and where it didn't match the blueprint.  Automatically, I reached for an eraser, attempting to hide the evidence of imperfection.  As soon as I started, I realized what I was doing.  My hand stopped moving and the eraser stilled.  

I was ignoring– rejecting, even– grace.  By trying to hide my mistakes, I was minimizing grace.  And it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, this art project was a parable-like epiphany of something bigger.   How often do I put my best forward and hide the rest– the unfinished, unpolished parts?  If I'm honest, "too often" is the answer.

Isn't that the opposite of what grace is about?  Perfection has no need for grace.  It covers inadequacy and sin.  Grace outshines our dull, shaky pencil with enduring gold.  It contrasts and transcends, and it wouldn't be as tremendous without great transgression.

Stay with me, friend.  Grace is not a reason to be wild and unrestrained.  The apostle Paul tells us explicitly that grace is not an excuse: "What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means!" 

Grace is offered to all of us. Grace propels us toward the cross.  Grace pushes us towards holiness.  In our small and sinful humanity, grace reaches down and transforms us while magnifying God.  We are loved, interceded for, and victorious through the Savior.  There's no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and nothing can separate us from His love.  I never want to diminish or forget that grace.

I left the draft marks behind the gold.  And to me, the shimmering loops are even more beautiful.  It is enough because:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

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