Artist's Lane

We need more grace


The best of times and the ugliest of times: 2023 gave us things to rejoice over, but a lot to cry about. God hid His face from us. He was there all the time, but we couldn’t see Him. We were running out of grace as we said goodbye to 2023 and hello to 2024. I wanted to go to bed, cover my head and hide my face.

2023 introduced many shocking moments. The ugliness of humanity. Suffering which can’t be explained. My Sweet Al and I scratched our heads and asked, “What happened and why?”

Our family was being attacked inside, outside and all around us. Everyone else was going through the same hard times with no answers. But, by God’s grace, our family grew tighter, stronger and victorious. 

What happened? It could be called God’s grace. In the writing world when we can’t find the right word to express our idea, we type three x’s and call it a placeholder. Sometimes it might take writing the whole book to find the right word to explain the text, to give us clarity and understanding.

2023 brought “Sound of Freedom,” an American crime thriller based on a true story. We watched the movie about child trafficking. We couldn’t imagine what parents go through who have lost their young girls and boys to sex traffickers. 

Tim Ballard, a former U.S. government agent, embarked on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers in Colombia. The most poignant scene for me in the movie was when Ballard asked Vampiro, played by Bill Camp, why he changed. He bought young children from the traffickers, but now he set them free.

Paraphrasing Vampiro, he said, “I met God. When I was finished with the young girl, I saw in her eyes sadness and darkness. I realized I was the one causing her sadness and I was the darkness she was looking at. I saw myself. God touched me and gave me grace.”

Do we need to see ourselves depraved in order to see ourselves helpless? This seems to be when we reach out to God and ask Him to save us. Grace is a touch from God in a way we can’t explain it. Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more and changes things. I believe the placeholder, the missing word for us last year was “grace.” At the time, I couldn’t thank Him for all the pain I felt.

When Jesus cried out to God in the garden in Luke 22:42 (TPT), “Father, if you are willing, take this cup of agony away from me. But no matter what, your will must be mine.” He was saying to make your decision my decision. Make the agony of death a joy for me.

Through Jesus Christ, God gave us grace to get through 2023. We learned what was lacking in us, how helpless we were to help ourselves and how to give grace to others.

Sometimes it takes a winter storm tearing at the very fiber of our existence until we surrender to God. Other times grace is simply a toothpick rolling off the side of the table and hitting the floor. The impact is so resounding, we fall on our knees in complete helplessness. That is when we cry out to God for grace and we are changed.

Final brushstroke: I’m ready to put 2023 to bed, close that book, and look forward to 2024. Feels like a change in the air. I’m still not sure what happened and what we needed to go through, but I’m learning more about grace. I believe 2023 prepared us for 2024 and grace was the placeholder we needed to get through last year.

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