[Written January 9, 2010; posted posthumously by Gillian Fritzsche.]
I saw a movie, more than a few years ago now, entitled The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, based on the novel written by Yukio Mishima. It was the chilling tale of a sailor, played by Kris Kristofferson, who falls in love with a young widow, played by Sarah Miles. Her son and his friends at first idolize the sailor because of his adventurous life, but when he leaves the sea to marry the boy’s mother, they plan a terrible punishment for him.
The concept of someone falling from grace by doing something displeasing, to the sea in this strange case, might not be strange to us. In fact, we probably think we fall from grace when we do something that we consider God isn’t pleased with.
But consider this: the grace of God was extended to us before we ever existed, before we could ever do anything, pleasing or displeasing. That should tell us something. It should tell us that although favor with those around us can be earned, and often is, God’s grace is given and received, never earned.
Grace and truth came by Jesus, Paul said. Unmerited favor toward us came at a great price to him.
We can reject it or disbelieve it, certainly. But can we fall from it?
According to the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, the way we “fall from grace”, although I don’t recall those exact words, is to have received it, and then try to work to earn what was freely given. He later calls the Galatians foolish for falling into the same trap.
This is not to say that we have fallen from grace’s availability. Grace is always offered and always available.
I know someone out there must be ready to present a “but” because it sounds like I’m saying we have no part to play in this deal. However, might I forestall that by saying the grace is God’s part, His own “as for me”. He then calls for our response to his offer.
His offer is salvation by grace through faith, Paul said.
And faith is not work. It is the natural response to the faithfulness of the one who offered the grace “wherein we stand”.
Years ago, when I finally realized that I had never earned and could never earn right standing with God, but that He had by His own grace offered it through the sacrifice of Jesus, I breathed a great sigh of relief and said, “Thank you!”
That was the day I realized how easy my part really is.
There have been times, many times, since then that I have done things that I know were displeasing to my Father, but His grace says, “I’m still here” and “Here’s the way to go”.
And faith responds.