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Bracelet made by Denise Flynn Forbes

Bracelet made by Denise Flynn Forbes, a Reader-Friend

It took me a long while to realize there is so much more to grace than what meets the eye, or the ear.

“The furthest distance I’ve ever known was from my head to my heart.” 

Perhaps you’ve heard that line in From My Head to My Heart, the song by Evan and Jaron. I’d heard the song and the statement before, but when it played as part of the soundtrack for the movie, Runaway Bride, the implication hit home. That’s what my spiritual journey had been about–was and is about–my faith in the Sovereign grace of God making its way from a head knowledge to a heart reality. God had blessed me with grace, but I hadn’t even begun to fully unwrap the package.

I was seven years old when I first registered the word grace. At Vacation Bible School at Trinity Baptist Church in Indio, California, Mrs. Bacon referred to God’s grace at the end of the Bible story. She was explaining what sin was and told of our need for God’s amazing grace, extended to us as a free gift because the perfect, sinless Son of God, Jesus’, death for us on a cruel cross. His dying, the punishment for our sins. His glorious resurrection, the root of our hope. The cross, the symbol of God’s grace toward us, undeserved and unearned grace.

That day, June 19th, I put my faith in Jesus, accepting His saving grace–the grace that bridged the gap between my fallible human nature and God’s infallible holiness. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until several years later that I began to grasp a broader scope of God’s grace–its sustaining and transforming power.

As a teenager, I began to realize that salvation was the beginning of my experience with God’s grace, not the destination. But statements like, “What will the neighbors think?” and “Christians don’t do that.” sank deep and told me that my performance–adherence to a list of do’s and don’ts for the sake of appearances–was what mattered most. It wasn’t until my adult years as a wife and mother that I began a true heart-deep experience with the freeing and transforming love and grace of God.

“Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, ‘Whoever does these things will live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming the curse for us.” Galatians 3:11-13, NIV

Rule keeping isn’t a measure of one’s spirituality. Nor is God’s love for me gauged by the success of my pretense or appearance of having it all together. We can’t earn God’s favor. But Jesus gained it for us on the cross. God’s grace relates to our belief, not to our behavior. I could never be “good” enough. Neither can you. Good news! That’s not what it takes to have a loving and grace-full relationship with God.

I write Christian Historical Fiction. What do I write about?

Mining camps, Colorado, life in a river city, Missouri, the Oregon trail and wagon trains. Yes. But those serve as the context for a resounding theme: God’s grace is deep and wide, and oh so sufficient for every thinkable need, and for the unthinkable, too. If you read my historical romance fiction, you’ll read about God’s grace in its many facets. You’ll see it portrayed in various situations and lifestyles. How do we make God’s grace our dwelling place? Not the law. Not pride, which breeds judgment on others. How do we live in the rhythm of God’s grace, not in the lurking shadows of expectations–those belonging to us, and the expectations of those around us? How do we elevate God’s grace instead of giving power to circumstances? Those questions are what fuel my storytelling.

In The Bride Wore Blue, it was Vivian Sinclair. She’d gone against God’s statutes and carried the shame of it like a weight around her neck, sure she was unforgivable. In Dandelions on the Wind, Maren Jensen struggles with difficult circumstances, but see God’s grace in the midst of it. In Prairie Song, Caleb Reger set out on the journey west with a secret. He’d made mistakes that had possibly played a role in ending the lives of others and definitely scarred his own. He struggled with not feeling forgiven.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV

According to the Scriptures, performance nor our feelings have anything to do with the reality of God’s grace. Christianity…grace is about Jesus, not about what we can or can’t do for ourselves, or for God. It’s already been done, and He did it!

I write about embracing grace. And what a joy that I get to do so as a storyteller with historical backdrops.

Your Turn

What does grace look like to you? I’d love to hear about your encounter with God’s grace? Or maybe you’re still grappling with grace? You’re not alone. Want to talk about it?