While the English Protestant Reformer, John Bradford, was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he saw a criminal being executed for his crimes, he is to have said: “There for the grace of God goes John Bradford.”
“There but for grace go I” is a phrase I often say to myself when I catch myself criticizing the bad choices that people make. I realize how easily I could in a similar situation make a bad choice too.
I have made pretty bad choices. I used to feel guilty when I saw people who’ve made similar bad choices, having to pay the consequences, while I apparently got off lightly. Somehow, it didn’t seem fair. Then I realized that grace is something that is given freely to us all. If I was drowning and someone held out their hand to save me would I start saying : ‘I don’t deserve this.” ? No, I would just reach out and grab that hand. It’s the same with grace. It was an undeserved gift – but one that I needed to save me from myself. Why should I reject it?
In time I’ve come to realize to live in this grace is to live in security – knowing that all your needs are taken care of. To live in grace is to live in gratitude – knowing that everything you have is a gift. To live in grace is to be able to look back at all your past mistakes, and while owning your present faults, know that “all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”