Grace in and of itself is unexpected. Merited favor, that is favor that is earned through one’s actions is predictable, foreseen, and expected. But Grace—that humbling divine favor shown to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is not expected. Like the wind, no one knows where it comes from or where it’s going, but all the while we see it’s effects.
Take Keith for example. Drugs define his life. He has forsaken all other things for that next bump, none of which fulfill him quite like the one before, thus he must do more. His teeth are rotted and he looks to be 7-10 years older than he actually is. Because of his addiction he has lost everything. He chooses to pay his cocaine bill rather than his utilities and as a result he has lost his family. His wife and four kids packed up and moved to North Carolina. Keith would never see them again. His wife and four children were devastatingly killed in an automobile accident. Left with nothing but drugs to comfort him, Keith chases the next high like a cat chases a laser pointer. That is, until unexpected grace occurred. I met Keith today and he told me his story. A group of students and I were following Keith around downtown Oklahoma City, just blocks away from the OKC bombing that took out the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. Keith tried to tell us before we started picking up trash the depth and magnitude of what we were doing and the truth is it was lost on each of us. To be quite honest, none of us thought there was anything great that could come out of simply picking up trash—but Keith knew otherwise. He brought us to an ally way that was sandwiched between a new Sonic Drive-In and an old auto garage. He told us that a little under a year ago he was strung out on drugs when a church group just like ours came through, simply picking up trash. What happened to him is incredible. One of the ladies in the group reached out and grabbed Keith by the arm and said, “Come with us.” At first, cursing under his inebriated breath, he refused—but eventually followed the group as they led him to City Rescue Mission just one street over from where he was in his drunken, drug induced stupor.
But what happened next is crazy, unpredictable, and definitely unexpected.
After getting involved in the rehabilitation program, Keith heard the Gospel. When I say he heard it, I do not mean that he listen to a preacher talk and was coerced into praying a prayer. What I mean is Keith heard the goodness, faithfulness, and unchanging love of God for him and he responded! From the alley to the Almighty, Keith’s life was unexpectantly changed by the grace of Jesus Christ, through His death, burial, and resurrection.
Now, Keith is still in recovery—clean since the day that woman grabbed him by the arm. Keith realizes that remaining clean day in and day out is a war, one in which he rests his hope in Christ alone to fight for him. This is the Gospel. It is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe.
In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified, except in the Son of God alone? O the sweetest exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous person, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!