Ever wanted to put God in a box? Ever wanted to be able to explain the things of God? Well, take your hands off the box, chill and check out this take on grace from Tony.

Tony Loeffler
Tony Loeffler

It was sometime around Christmas 1995, when a professor from Eastern Christian High School asked if I would speak to about 700 students on the topic of "God's Grace" at their morning chapel time. Without hesitation I accepted the offer and thought to myself, "What an easy assignment this will be." Little did I know I was in for a big surprise!

As time passed by and my speaking engagement got closer and closer, I began to realise that I could no more properly address this topic than try creating the universe. I could have easily given the typical response, "Grace is God's Unmerited Favor" but it just didn't rest quite well with me at the time. What about the-----Who?, Where?, Why?, What?, When?, and How? That typical cliché response of unmerited favor just didn't do it for me that day.

Thinking more and more about my topic, I concluded that my best approach was to talk about the effects of God's Grace and to stay away from the temptation of trying to explain God's Grace. For who in their right mind would try to explain the 5 W's of God's Grace and not be an imposter on the throne of God?

Addressing those students on that chilly morning was fairly easy as I spoke about several examples of the effects of God's Grace. I used some Old and New Testament references as well as my personal testimony. I do remember saying, "You can hear, feel and see the results of the wind as the leaves are being blown today. I can't totally explain the wind but we can see the results, can't we?" Even though I used the example of the wind and the leaves in my speaking, I never thought that "Grace is like the wind" until eight years later.

It happened one day when I was still wrestling with the topic of Grace. I said to myself, "Where can I look in the Bible to see what the Lord says about this marvelous mystery of Grace?" For some reason, on that day my mind went to the story of Nicodemus when he had a conversation with Jesus about that very topic. It seemed to me that it would be here, where an answer would be found to my question.

I thought that if Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus the mystery of Grace then there must be an answer here. I remember reading the passage over and over again looking for a concrete answer. Something was compelling me to explore this issue of God's Grace more than ever and I wanted an answer.

In this dialogue with Jesus and Nicodemus in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, in verse 1 through 8, there is an answer. It may not be the one of our choice but nevertheless an answer, "Grace is like the wind." After Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus is who he claimed to be, Jesus explains to him the mystery of His Grace and in verse 8 he says, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

I have to admit that this was not what I expected in my search for an answer. But something deep inside resonated with God's response. Part of me wanted to laugh, while another part of me felt somewhat disappointed because I didn't have something concrete to tell people.

Why do you think God is so elusive when it comes to explaining to Nicodemus this mystery of Grace? More importantly, why do humans feel the urge to have an explanation for everything that the Lord does on earth? Could it be that God wants to remind us that He alone is God and that there is none like Him?

In Luke's record in Chapter 7, verse 11 to 16 there is another fascinating string of events that take place in the city of Nain. They too, remind us that God will be God when He wants to, where He wants to, how He wants to, and why He wants to and it is quite humbling to realize that only He holds a monopoly on this type of Grace.

In this chapter a man had died and was the only son of his mother who was already a widow. The disciples were entering the town gate with Jesus along with a large multitude. There was also a sizeable crowd coming out of the city gate with the funeral procession. Luke the physician, who obviously pays attention to details, says absolutely nothing about any communication or request made by anyone in either of these groups. In other words, what stimulated the action? Who made the request for help? And especially, what was the qualifier to receive God's Grace?

In reviewing this event I can't help but believe that Luke, by the mentioning of the crowds, wanted to emphasize that others were witnesses to this special characteristic of God as well. Namely, that God's "Grace is like the wind." Without much more than a look at the woman, the Lord has compassion on her and said to her, "Do Not Weep."

Then miraculously, He touches the coffin, stops the funeral procession and says, "Young man, I say to you arise!" And guess what? The dead man sat up, and began to speak. Now that is enough to scare the wits out of anyone. Verse 16 tells us that fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and, "God has visited His people!"

When was the last time you were gripped by fear with the Lord's grace? It seems to me that we have so manufactured the moves of God that nothing is unusual anymore. If it isn't planned, organized or structured and if we don't understand it, then it probably isn't of God, many are saying today. But, the truth of the matter is that "Grace is like the wind." Be thankful when the Lord sends it your way. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.