Fourth Sunday in Lent: The Meaning of Grace
My new life here in the United States for almost 5 years was struggle itself for survival and hardship: Adjusting new culture, custom and language. But this tough and difficult block of my life journey became precious and valuable path for me to experience God’s abundant love no matter who I am and what I do. I defined it as God’s amazing grace and this word became one of my favorite biblical terms.
When I found out that my second child would be a girl, I chose her English name “Grace.” Seven years before her birth during my engagement, my fiancé had named a girl’s Korean name “Chung-Hahn-Sam” meaning “God’s chosen wellspring” or “pure wellspring” which he derived the idea from Chapter 4 of the Gospel of John.
Then, why did I choose ‘Grace’ which doesn’t seem to match the meaning of the Living Water from the story of Samaritan Woman at the Well? To me her encounter with Jesus at the well is also amazing grace. Nothing in life is without God’s grace. Therefore, I really wanted my daughter to live in God’s amazing grace as she takes every single step by step during her life journey, which lead her into the abundant life – eternal life, which is also amazing grace.
Jesus challenges Nicodemus, a leader and teacher of the people of Israel and quite religious man who visited him in the night to come to the light to live in God’s way, not live in darkness concealing evil deeds and thoughts.
I often identify myself with Nicodemus who seeks for the truth and the true meaning of life in God, but afraid of revealing himself publicly. When I am occupied by the daily busy life, I even don’t recognize that I am far away from the light, truth, and life but I pretend that I am alright. But it becomes clear and vivid that my mind is like a shopping bag filled with junk food, or like a bundle of tangled yarns, or a messy kitchen countertop. I am confused where to start to solve the problem or clean up. No matter what, my life goes on as time passes by fast and I am getting less focused, less productive, and my inner peace is getting dwindled away.
At that moment I sense that God invites me to the open door for light from darkness. It’s grace, an amazing grace. I am so thankful for this constant offer from God when I am in a desperate situation. I am not deserving and entitled to have that offer, but by God’s grace I am well loved and cared and I am recovered and claim myself, “I am your precious daughter, O Lord!” What a great gift this is!
The chapter 3 of the Gospel of John leads me a bread of life again: I am in the eternal life, in other words, abundant life by God’s grace. It’s a blessing poured to me and all who are created by God, the Creator.
But this kind of invitation doesn’t come to me automatically in my case. I experience this kind of Amazing Grace when I set aside my time for devotion, prayer, reading, or reflection. My environment doesn’t matter. At home or office, park or street, driving or walking. Of course many times my physical tiredness and fatigue steals away my desire and intention and I becomes helpless in this situation. But God has not given up.
The Lenten season offers me such a wonderful block of time, and I believe that I am not the only one who enjoys this special season. That’s the power of discipline the faithful Christians throughout the history have witnessed and I am so thankful for this tradition.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The eternal life means to me life for thanksgiving and it’s really amazing experience.
Lord! Thank you for your love without condition. You have always been with me whenever I need you. I pray for other brothers and sisters to receive your free offer as I do and thus experience the joy and thanksgiving which leads the abundant life in you.
*Jungrea Chung is an executive of the Asian and Pacific regions for Mission Personnel with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.