Broadly speaking, grace can be understood as God’s unmerited favor toward human beings, his one-way, sacrificial love for sinful men and women who deserve anything but. It is a gift with no strings attached. Grace is the answer we receive in Christ to the question of God’s disposition toward troubled people like you and me.

How many times can we mess up before we have exhausted God’s forgiveness? In Christ, God’s Grace is revealed to be inexhaustible, the death and resurrection of Christ being the bedrock of this assurance. Through it we are secured of God’s favor—come what may. This is why the triumphant cry of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:1, “there is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” has been the hallmark of those committed to the Good News of God’s saving Grace.

Of course, not every Christian tradition agrees on the nature or definition of Grace. Grace in New Testament usage is complex to be sure, but the fundamental point of interpretative contention can be boiled down to whether Grace is an essence that is imparted or a gift that is imputed. That is, whether God’s grace changes people into objects that are worthy of love, or if His grace creates the beloved thing by faith; whether it is a change agent or a saving one. While not denying that it can have a transforming effect, we use it in the latter sense.

Grace, of course, does have horizontal meaning as well. While humans tend to attach strings to the gifts we give, acts of mercy and charity that occur in spite (or because) of ample reason for them not to could be considered gracious. We often experience grace in such terms, being loved when we feel unlovable, praised when we deserve reproach, rewarded when we should be punished, etc. We try to catalog such instances on the Mockingbird site, in the process hopefully gaining a deeper appreciation of the divine disposition.


This is a poem I wrote back in 1998 (2 years prior to my conversion). When I was 16, I “gave my life to Christ”. However, I never considered myself to be a Christian, because I could never “act” or “be” Christian. I spent 9 years (1991 to 2000) wrestling with the fact that I couldn’t follow the “law” to the tee. I read and reread the book of Proverbs, which contained all that I believed I needed to do to be righteous and holy (the words of Proverbs are unreadable in my first bible, they were underlined so many times). Yet, daily I failed miserably. If I ever felt like I was “getting it”, I was destined for a major failure, which would dash my fragile and robust pride to the rocks, thus, leaving me hopeless, helpless, and near despair. The poem that follows was written out of one of those failures…

Even after my conversion in December of 2000, I still wrestled with a strong theology of Glory
and subsequent failure and condmenation. It wasn’t until the fall of 2007, trough some pretty amazing friendships and a handful of major failures despite all my “striving”, that I felt the refreshing shower of True Grace over my life. Now, as I read a poem I wrote 9 years ago, I realize how unimportant it is for me to “do” anything–for my hard “works” will only lead to pride, and pride will lead to judgment/condemnation, and this is a wretched existence. In a nutshell, this poem paints a picture of giving up that ends in landing in Grace by His accord and not by your own. It is by Grace that God has clutched me in His hand and rescued me from the pit of Hell. Grace is not the result of anything I do nor can I acquire it or more of it by my own will/works. Grace is a gift; a gift the God of the universe has spoken to/into us. May we bow our heads, in prayer, saying “Grace”.

In the fit of the final hours you feel the shackle.

Tightly clamped to a thin bony ankle;

Gripping to the surface of level ground,

You feel the pull forcefully down.

With tips of fingers painted white

From the force of earth against hand tight;

You glance toward the steadfast pull,

“Nothing there,” you gasp, breathing partly full.

Pieces of dirt crumble from your hands and pressure

Falling quickly, soundlessly into the inhaling fissure.

The more you pull and the more you fight,

The tighter the clamp resists your mere human might.

Darkness’ clouds come rolling, God-Speed, in.

The shackle tightens, triggering each and every last sin.

As you turn inward and ponder all evil deeds,

You can hear the foreboding chant of evil’s creeds.

With every thought you forget your grip for life,

Giving way for darkness’ discontent and strife.

Without forewarning your left hand does slip,

Falling, quickly, into Death’s tight grip.

Weakness remaining, you realize you have no chance

To escape from this Hell, this demon like trance.

“Please help me!” yelled out loud

Hoping to see some light through the cloud.

Your last strength gives way

Breathing dust, soot, and clay;

Expecting to fall into that eternal night,

Christ’s hand grabs yours steadfast and tight.

Pulling you from darkness and out of despair,

Your soul he has rescued and repaired.

Merry Christmas!