I have started a new routine that fits me very well. Every morning, after dropping my oldest two daughters off at school, I stop by a local park before heading to the office. I don’t stay there too long. Maybe 15 minutes. It’s just a time to finish my first cup of coffee and just talk to God and allow Him to talk to me. I’m weird I know, but I do that sort of conversation best when I’m outdoors. Just something about being in nature.

As I sipped this morning, I watched our Sandusky river flow through the park. The current of the river doesn’t look strong from the outside — flowing with a steadiness and consistency reminiscent of something faithful. It doesn’t look strong.

On the surface…

It’s what can’t be seen, what’s invisible, that shows the great strength the current has.

I’ve been in several rivers. Some fishing. Some kayaking or canoeing. Others I have just been swimming in. But whatever the activity, one thing is the same. The true strength of the current can only be felt when you are in the river. It can’t be felt when you are just looking at the surface.

I was kayaking a year ago and did a seven mile run in record time! On the surface the flow of the current seemed calm. On the surface the water was moving steadily, consistently. My eyes were opened to just how fast the water was moving when I got out of the kayak! I was just about swept under. I had to walk, leaning forward against the flow of the current just to stay up. There was so much strength that I couldn’t see until I was in it and felt it!

What a picture of what grace is! It is truly our strength! The writer of Hebrews says that it is “good for the heart to be strengthen by grace” (Hebrews 13:9 NASB). Paul writes to Timothy to “be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1).

Within the life of you and I as disciples of Jesus, grace is that unseen force that is the source of all the strength we need to do life in a way that is pleasing to Him! It is the quiet strength within all of us!

Grace is very much a word more about God and less about us. It’s God’s initiative. It’s God choosing to save us instead of facing the penalty we deserve for our sin — eternal separation from Him. With that as a backdrop, we can see Grace manifested in person and purpose of Jesus Christ. He is grace incarnate.

Biblically, the Greek word for Grace is charis. It’s defined as a blessing, kindness, favor, gracious work, thankfulness. According to Mounce’s Dictionary, grace is “ the acceptance of and goodness toward those who cannot earn or do not deserve such gain.’ It is God’s attitude of lovingkindness toward us. It is His desire to to prosper us. (Think prosper us spiritually!)

Grace is a big deal. Did you catch that?

I have to admit that I don’t always live with this in mind. That strength is always there, but I sometimes fail to appropriate that strength. I mean let’s just for a few brief moments consider the strength of grace in our lives when we apply it.

We receive forgiveness of sin. That’s huge! Without it you and I are lost! Jesus took our sin upon Himself and we receive His righteousness in return! If we just stopped there that would be enough, wouldn’t it?!?!

We receive the ability to forgive others. That’s difficult on our own. I’ve been hurt before. Really hurt! And I have had to apply grace to be able to have the strength to forgive! When I feel immense love for the person who has hurt me, I am left speechless. It wasn’t me! It was all God that does that! All Grace!

What about freedom!? Through the strength of grace I am free from what others think. I become laser focused in only what God thinks about me. My eyes are focused on Jesus and not others. It is here that great peace rests knowing that I am a child of God and all I have to be is simply that! Nothing more, nothing less. Joy rules in my life, not turmoil, anguish, anxiety or guilt. Just peace and true freedom from those things that seek to drag me down.

Grace shines when all else seems dreary! I’m a sun shining kind of guy! I much prefer the sun shining then clouds. I know I’m not alone on this! But even when the sun shines, life can be dreary within. It is those days that appropriating God’s promise of strength through grace makes the difference!! His grace shines when all else doesn’t. Applying grace during those dreary times nurtures my soul. It’s my relationship with Jesus, grace manifested, where I draw strength when I feel so weak.

I wish I could always remember to appropriate the strength of grace. I don’t. I fail at it. And yet grace is waiting for me when I’m done wrestling, struggling, and wearing myself out, patiently waiting for me to turn and grab a hold of that strength with both hands!

I’m thankful for that!

What about you? Are you appropriating the strength of grace in your life? Are there circumstances that you feel weak in that you need His strength? Seek to apply that grace in your life. It is not found on the surface like the river. Nope…it’s found deeper within, in the quiet, where you will find its strength.

And that’s where you’ll find His strength…