Friday, March 9, 2012

Wonderful, Marvelous Grace

The story is told that Mayor Laguardia of New York, in the depths of the Great Depression, walked into a courtroom, dismissed the judge, and sat to preside over some cases himself. Mayors had the right to do so in those times.

The case came up of a poor old woman accused of stealing bread for her grandchildren.

Mayor Laguardia found her guilty, sentencing her to a fine of $10 or 10 days in jail. Even as he pronounced the sentence, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a $10 bill. Then he fined all those in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city where a woman had to steal to feed her family. The woman left the courtroom, tears in her eyes, with enough money to feed her family for several months. *

Isn't that a beautiful picture of God's love for us? When we stand before him, we are guilty. There is no denying that fact. We have broken his law over and over again. Yet, even as he hands down the censure, he is sending Christ to bear our punishment. We don't have to pay the fine - the fine we could never repay no matter how long we tried.

What emotions swirled inside that woman as she left the courthouse? There must have been overwhelming relief - the burden of feeding her grandchildren had been lifted, at least for a few months. Unbelievable joy. She must have been so frightened when the mayor sentenced her. How would she ever pay the fine? Then to have it paid for her? I imagine she went home, threw a small party for the children and told all of her neighbors.

These are the emotions Haldor Lillenas portrays in his beautiful hymn.

Isn't that a beautiful picture of God's love for us?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus is a celebration of the fact that we, saved by God, stand in his grace. Listen to the pure joy in the first verse.

Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

Just how big is this grace? It is greater than all our sin. Sounds small, but when you think of it, the depth of God's love and mercy to us in indescribable. We, alone, are helpless to do anything about a guilty, polluted, sinful state. Yet God saw us, sitting in our rags on the ash heap, chose us, loved us, and saved us. Wonderful, marvelous, matchless.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!

My guess is that Mr. Lillenas had a difficult time coming up with the words to adequately describe the fullness of his heart when he pondered how much the Lord loved him. Have you felt that matchless bursting of your heart?

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

Does our thanksgiving overflow so that others can see the joy of God's grace in our lives? Do we live our lives, every day grateful for what He did for us? Because of us, will God's grace reach more and more people?

Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost;
Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

*Snopes neither confirms nor denies the validity of this story. I post it here only as an example of grace.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings from Wordwise Hymns. I posted an article on this hymn today, so your blog caught my eye. Great story about Laguardia--and it certainly sounds like him! God bless.