Simultaneous generosity from a new landlord and failure with a student taught me about grace that is costly and free.
First, as Eric moved into what will soon be our new home together, the landlords made the most unexpected and generous of statements. Regarding rent for the first month, "You don't have to pay." Instead, this school family wanted us to buy things that the apartment needed. "Go to IKEA. Maybe buy some curtains." Really?? A month's rent worth of curtains and fixtures and fixings? What generosity!
I was actually taken aback by the gracious offering. It seemed too good. I didn't want to misunderstand or offend our landlords, who happen to be from a culture different from my own. Surely they didn't mean a month in an apartment for free. But they did. This is the rich abundance of grace.
At the same time, back at school, I was not living in quite the same thankful euphoria. A student had asked me to help with an important task as she applied to a prestigious university. I was determined to get it right for her. Instead, my portion was drawn out and the deadline passed without it reaching completion. I failed, utterly. My reaction was disbelief, mortification, and regret. How could I let her down? This moment demonstrated the reality of my sin.
But God (don't you just love that phrase?) took care of the situation and taught me an important lesson. The student had other teachers also working on the application, and she forgave my hurtful blunder. It cost her something, though. My mistake had consequences. Her forgiving response wasn't easy. This is grace.
God's favor is more abundant than I can really grasp, and he lavishes it on me in love through Jesus. When I actually notice grace, I'm amazed by the power of it to redeem, loose, and equip. At the same time, such grace isn't without great cost. Christ himself faced the utter rejection, the horrible punishment, the agony of my sin.
Grace is costly, but it is freely given to me.