When you are created, all is grace. My breath, my abilities, my hair and eyes, my whole life, is grace. To soak in the idea of being created- being part of creation- gives me a whole different perspective on life. I'm here with a purpose, by design. I'm not my own- I'm not made for me but for something larger. I am a piece of the whole, meant to share something with the rest of creation just as trees and stars and oceans do. Whatever happens to me, I am noticed and loved. And when I really live as a creation, I want to do everything possible to hear and follow the voice of the One who made me. And creation would be grace without the cross, even- for I had nothing to do with my coming into existence.
Yet grace did not stop there. Not God's grace. "But he was pierced for OUR transgressions, he was crushed for OUR iniquities; the punishment that brought US peace was upon him, and by his wounds WE are healed." -Isaiah 53:5 (emphasis mine)
He gave us life, then he died to give us life to the full-eternal life. He gave us breath before we had anything to offer and "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8
I am in awe of this grace- though at times it is too wonderful for me to really grasp. I become too used to it- too comfortable. Then I read Titus 2:11-12 and it made me stop fresh to ponder the power of grace: "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." (emphasis mine)
And I wondered how grace leads to godliness. How grace trains me to say "no" to worldliness and "yes" to being self-controlled and upright. Grace? What did I think would teach me- train me- did I think it would be severity? Did I think I would be trained by trying over and over to be godly?
Does grace train me because I see that I am not my own? That I was bought at a price? (1 Corinthians 6:20) And could it even be that where I am disciplined to be made holy, that even that is called grace because it loosens my grip on lesser things in exchange for something greater? (Hebrews 12: 6, 10) Does grace make my selfishness seem so unthinkable and foolish in light of what God has done for me? What is this grace that makes me want to change- more than that, this grace that CHANGES me? Because it is precisely grace that lives in me as Christ and works in me to make me whole, to produce good fruit, to love others.
So I'm created by grace, rescued by grace, and trained to love by grace.