and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
Ephesians 2:8 KJV
When I was forty-something, my mom gave me her most prized possession—her mother’s Bible: a lady-like sized, leather-bound King James Version, with petite print.
What I treasure most about this Bible is my Grandmother’s written notes. My own Bible has many passages highlighted and underlined, with comments written in the margin, the really good pages dog-earred. So with great interest I opened Grandma’s Bible to see what passages were most dear to her. Leafing through its delicate pages yielded only one, concise comment—but it is a comment that speaks volumes.
In carefully executed cursive, at the top of the “Presented to” page, Grandma wrote “grace means gift.” That’s it. Grace means gift. After my initial disappointment, my heart swelled with the realization that this one tiny phrase was the “heart” of my grandmother’s heart.
At the time I discovered her note, I was in the midst of my own discovery of God’s grace. I’m always amazed (but not surprised) at God’s impeccable timing. If I had read Grandma’s comment a couple years earlier, would it have had the same impact? I think not. God saved this precious discovery for a time when I would be most able to receive the full impact of its blessing.
Grandma’s legacy—the realization of God’s amazing grace—was passed down to me through my mother. I’m not referring here to Mom handing over Grandma’s Bible to me, but to her own faith journey. Every time she shared her personal encounters with “grace means gift,” with me, her face glowed and her voice took on the quality of music—an expression that made me say to myself, “I want that! I want to have what she has!”
Even though my mom was raised in the church, it wasn’t until she was 59 that she really “got” grace. In her eighties, Mom wrote her autobiography for her children and grandchildren, and in it she stated, “Unknowingly, there had been a struggle in my life as I wavered back and forth for many years, trying to earn my own salvation FOR God, instead of accepting it as a free gift FROM God through Christ!”
Each one of us has to experience our very own encounter with grace. Grace is such a difficult concept to grasp. But once we’ve “got” grace, we want to share it. And it is through demonstrating grace toward others that we help them “get” grace.
We can lead our loved ones and friends to the water trough of grace, but they have to taste it for themselves in order to experience its refreshing, life sustaining truth. Often times, we arrive at the water trough via trauma, crisis, loss, grief—literally dying of thirst, spiritually. Care for a sip?
Grace means gift!
In memory of my grace-filled grandma
Wilhelminia Schelesky Reuman