For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
I sit at the back of my Bible classroom on this beautiful Spring day in the mountains, enjoying both the day and listening to the Student Teacher from Southern Adventist University. Sonja has been covering the topic of God’s Grace and a test is planned for today. As with most test days, students are fearful of how they will do or concerned they haven’t spent enough time preparing. Today, fear and concern quickly turned into joy and relief nearly as quickly as they turned the page of the exam. As they turned the paper over, they saw the answers already provided for them on the test. The answers were actually filled in by the teacher! Per the instructions, if they would simply sign their name, indicating their acceptance of the Teacher-provided answers, they could count those answers as their own. Many students couldn’t believe it and were reluctant to sign, thinking it must be some sort of trick. Eventually, all students signed the test and received 100%. A real-life example of grace! After the test, Sonja asked, “How did it make you feel to take this test?” The students’ responses were thought provoking. Some were frustrated, feeling they wasted their time studying for something when the answers were all provided. Others, who forgot to study or were too tired to study, were thrilled to receive this gracious test. A few were actually upset their friends received 100% after spending no time studying. That last response had me ruminating. How easy to be upset because I have put so much effort into preparing for God’s “test.” Efforts He has said are in vain. God’s Law demands complete perfection; His “test” is a Pass/Fail situation. Not even one missed “test question” is permissible for success. The Bible makes clear, we have all failed; I have failed. The great news of His Grace: He has provided the answer; I just need to sign my name. Still, I am tempted to put my own efforts at the front. Still, I am tempted to be frustrated with God’s willingness to save those who seem to spend no time “preparing” for His Grace. As if they are not “good enough.” Who among us is good enough? None; not me, for sure. And that is His Grace … Unmerited Favor … completely undeserved! Today, I want to allow Him to turn my fears into joys as I relish in the Grace given. Perhaps today I can show more grace and mercy to others as my heart is filled with song and gratefulness to the Gracious One.
By: Jo Ottinger ('91)