"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi
No worries. You have a day of grace.
The most commonly
used phrase in the library is probably, “Your books are due back in two weeks.”
The next most common could be, “Oh, if your books are just one day late, there
is no fine. You have a day of grace.” Meaning, the library system is excusing
you for being a day late. Now, think about that for a minute. You are late with
a book or books, so therefore you owe money as a penalty for being late. Even
for a day. Yet, even though you messed up and didn’t live up to your potential,
and should be punished by some means (i.e., paying money), you are given a day
of grace. You are forgiven. You get a pass. It is like you brought them back on
I worked for the
Georgia State University Library for quite a number of years before I retired,
then I began to work for the Henry County Library System. For all those years,
I would use that term, grace, and it never sank in that this was the most
practical application of the word I have ever encountered. I’ve been in church
all my life, studied theology, am a licensed deacon and ordained minister, yet
I had never fully realized what that term meant on a practical, day by day
level. Until I worked at a Circulation desk.
Grace is one of
those “church words” that tend to scare people away who don’t know the “church
words.” Words like redemption, sanctification, incarnation and the big one of
righteousness. People outside the church walls don’t understand those words and
they are afraid of them. Many people inside the church walls don’t understand
them either. Like me. Again…kinda scary and words with more than two syllables
tend to confuse me.
In a church setting,
we hear the word “grace” when we talk about the fact that God gave us grace
when He sent Jesus. And why did God send Jesus? Because the human race was not
living the way they should. God had set standards in the very beginning of
time, but we had (almost) immediately tried to change the rules. So, we found
out that we could get by with more and more misbehaving until God decided that
it was time to flood the earth and start over again. And He did. But, even
though Noah and his family were the ones chosen to survive because they were
the most Godly people, they were still human and human nature is to not believe
in God and to not obey the rules.
So, instead of
destroying everything again, God chose to use…..grace. He sent Jesus to live on
earth, try to teach us how to live better, gave us new ways to obey God and how
to love. The true love that only comes from God. And then, the unbelievers
killed Jesus. But, you know the rest of the story. He rose from the dead, gave
those who still believed the commission to keep telling the world about God and
God’s love and to offer the hope that only God can give.
According to God’s
standards…We. Do. Not. Deserve. To. Live. We lie, cheat, steal, kill and break
all the rules and even go beyond the imaginable. But, God chose to not give us
what we deserve. He gave us…..grace. He forgives us if we recognize our
behavior and ask forgiveness. And then, we receive…..God’s grace, which is much
bigger than that twenty cent fine.
When this concept
first clicked in my head one day at work, it amazed me that one of those
“church words” finally made sense. So, I hope this makes a little sense to you
and you can begin to fully understand what grace is. Being forgiven when we
don’t deserve it. And God does it for us every single day.
And for today my
friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.