June 8, 2016

What Grace Can Do

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV2011)

The effect of grace is life changing!  When Paul wrote this, he was reflecting on his BC days (Before Christ).  In 1 Corinthians 9:9, he wrote,

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

But, then, something radical happened in his life that changed him forever!  It was grace!  In the next verse, he says, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.”  The word effect means to cause to change. That’s what grace does!  Grace not only saves us, but it also sustains us!  No matter what you’ve gone through, grace will get you through.  Mary is a woman in our church who experienced such grace through great loss.  Here’s her grace story:

“In 2006, something shifted inside me, and I suggested to my husband that we start attending church. For the first time in my life, I started learning scripture and felt accepted and loved by Jesus. I could feel Jesus dissolving the guilt I carried around with me and replace it with grace. Our lives started to get better financially and we moved into a more comfortable lifestyle. Then, in 2008 with the financial downslide of our nation, we were greatly affected. Going down the tubes quickly, we lost our house, job, etc.  But, God was there to sustain us and always met our needs.

Just as we were getting our heads above water, we had another devastating blow. My husband, son, and I were hit “head on” by a drunk driver while traveling back home in 2010. I thought I died that day, but God told me it was not my time and that, through our family suffering, would come great glory to Him. We all survived, but had a grueling four-month recovery before returning home and finding work. Our son sustained mild brain trauma which was undetected. That was pure misery trying to figure out what was wrong and help him on limited resources. I remember thinking All I have is God and His mercy. I prayed around the clock, and our story was on everyone’s social media page, so we had many prayers being sent our way – even from people that we didn’t know. I could see how God was using us.

We had been through so much that God’s mercy and grace saw us through, and we wanted to proclaim our victory through baptism as a family; but, as fate would have it, our time ran out. Just 18 months after my husband’s recovery from his injuries, he was killed by a distracted driver close to our home. My entire world turned upside down again. I was living in La Quinta, CA, and my family was in San Diego. I put my husband to rest, became a single mom to a child with disabilities and severe grief, and then became very ill myself.

Being bed-ridden, I could feel the oppression from the enemy. He wanted me dead. I could feel the heaviness and him taunting me Your son will find you dead on the floor and have no parents left. I cried out to God and begged for Him to heal me. I had never turned my back on God, but I was concerned for our wellbeing. I cried out for emotional healing from my Lord and Savior. I knew now, more than ever, that I had to fight for my son’s sake. I knew that God had more plans for me and that I just had to stay faithful. I slowly got stronger and began to heal.

One evening while attending a friend’s engagement party, I met a girl that told me she was going to be baptized in the morning. She and I connected right away, and I found myself saying I am ready to be baptized, so we went together. This was not only my declaration to God but also my new beginning.

One week following my baptism and a year after my husband’s death, God brought a man into my life. We were married 8 months later. We now live in Houston to be close to his four children. We joined Woodlands Church this year and were all baptized as a family. 

I had so many reasons to be mad at God and turn my back on Him. The amount of loss and trauma was beyond words. Yet, through all the fire, He has sustained me, shown mercy, and blessed me with His amazing grace.”