“Grace mercy and peace from God the Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”
These were the words the pastor at the church I grew up in uttered at the beginning of every sermon, every Sunday, for as far back as I can remember. Even as a young child, I admired the phrase. There was something so comforting and familiar about the words. It was like an utterance of God’s love reaching out to me. It wasn’t a benediction, but rather an invitation to sit back and soak in that love. The dust dancing through the sunshine mesmerized me as I settled into the creaky pew ready to hear the message that would encourage, inspire and, hopefully, remind me of how much I was loved.
But though I appreciated the words, I’m not sure that as a child I truly understood their significance, or even their meaning. In fact, until I stumbled upon them again the other day, I really hadn’t given much thought to the phrase, grace, mercy and peace. In the past, I thought of that phrase as a sort of holy greeting—a religious hello you might say, but nothing more.
But the neat thing about God’s word is that it’s always teaching us, always training us, always leading us into new knowledge. So, the other day, when I read these words in 2nd Timothy, I gained a new understanding and appreciation for the phrase: grace, mercy and peace.
To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2nd Timothy 1:2 )
In two days, I will begin not one, not two, but three master’s level courses. To say that I am a bit worried would be an understatement. In a summer session, the content of a semester is crammed into six short weeks and, for me, that intensity will be multiplied times three.
While I’m not sure how it’s going to go, here’s what I do know. God’s grace is there for me. He’s going to be there to help me through the difficult days ahead. His mercy will be there, even when I mess up or feel I haven’t done something well. And maybe, most importantly, his peace is there for me.
You see, I don’t think God wants me to be a nervous wreck over this situation. I don’t think he wants me to be afraid. I think he very much so wants me to trust him and rest in his perfect peace.
Grace, mercy and peace. That’s what God has to offer us each and every day of our lives. Grace for the difficult moments, mercy for when we’ve screwed up, peace to guard our hearts and minds and keep us focused on the truth—the truth that we are deeply and dearly loved and that nothing can every separate us from that love. (Romans 8:38)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what God was teaching me about stress, What God's Teaching Me About Being Stressed Out. That was when I was preparing a big project for the class I was taking. I think I’ll take a cue from those days and remember that stressing out is not of God. Trust is. Faith is. May you remember that as well in the days ahead. No matter what you’re facing, may God’s grace, mercy and peace be yours in abundance. Amen.