When you saw the title of this post you may have been thinking it has to do with the names of two people. Not really. Coincidentally, this is the title of an old TV sitcom but it is definitely not what I am referring to, either. Rather, it’s about something much more relevant than that: God’s will and grace.
I was sitting in a restaurant recently and noticed this sign on the wall which read, “The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.” This saying led me to think about the will of God and his marvelous grace.
When we seek the will of God, we often don’t know what God is going to do to reveal it to us. But however he does it, we must trust that his grace is there to provide for our needs.
When Andy Griffith (June 1, 1926 — July 3, 2012), star of the classic television program that bore his name, was in his fifties he and his wife, Cindi, faced some serious situations that eventually led them to experience God’s wonderful grace. In November, 1996, Guideposts published an article he wrote in which he told how he had battled a mysterious illness from which he was fighting to recover. The couple were also facing a financial setback that led them to be virtually broke. Due to his age, it was becoming more and more difficult to find work in Hollywood.
So, he and Cindi decided that things might work out better if they moved from their Los Angeles home back to Andy’s home state of North Carolina. But since the real estate market was down at the time, they couldn’t get a decent offer on their house. A whole year went by. Andy recalled, “I was getting physically stronger, but I was so depressed. We couldn’t sell the house—I didn’t know what to do.”
Andy said, “Then Cindi came up with an off-the-wall idea. ‘Maybe it’s a good idea that we couldn’t sell the house,’ she said. ‘Maybe it was God showing us grace. If we moved to North Carolina now, you might indeed never work again. What we need to do is stay here and stoke the fire.'”
And that’s what they did. Day after day they went together to the office of the talent agency that represented Andy. They sat in the lobby, talked with agents, went with them to lunch. Eventually the work started coming in: four TV movies that year, including the pilot of Matlock, a show that ended up running for nine years.
When facing difficulties, it’s often difficult to understand the will of God. We naturally wonder why we’re going through them and how we’re going to deal with them. But in the process of our struggles, we’re moved to examine the circumstances we’re in and rely on God’s grace to carry us through them. We must be confident that as it paid off for Andy and Cindi, it will pay off for us, too.
In Titus 2:11-14, the Apostle Paul wrote,
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds, (New American Standard Bible, NASB).
In these verses you find the will of God for Christian living. He tells us how not to live as well as how we ought to live as followers of Christ. This presents a challenge that requires obedience, discipline, trust and especially, hope. Hope is the driving force that keeps up looking up and beyond the present to the glorious future promises to all those anticipating the Lord’s glorious return. All of this is possible not because of anything special or outstanding about us but because “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men [and, of course, women]….”
The struggles that you and I go through would be impossible to face, and even overcome if it were not for God’s grace. But it takes God’s will to experience it. In Romans 12:1-3, notice Paul’s connection between “the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” and “the grace” God has given for him to encourage his fellow believers:
Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, according to the measure of faith God has given you.… (Berean Study Bible, BSB).
Paul could speak from his own personal experience concerning God’s grace. Paul recounted the many times God graciously provided for his needs after suffering persecution for his witness of Christ: 2 Corinthians 11:23-29. And he was humble enough to admit, “For I am least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them. Yet not I, but the grace of God with me,” (1 Cor. 15:9-10, NASB).
Paul was able to endure his trials and sufferings because he learned to accept them through God’s grace. Look at his testimony on the way he dealt with his “thorn in the flesh”:
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
We don’t know exactly what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. There are a list of theories: stammering speech, arthritis, malaria, bad eyesight or some other physical illness or malignity. But whatever it was, the apostle learned to rely on “the power of Christ” to give him strength to deal with it. God’s will is that we accept his grace to give us strength even when we are weak.
We can depend on God and the power we receive through his Son knowing that in the end, all things will turn out for the best as we place our hope in him (Romans 8:28).
Here’s Matthew West singing, “Grace Wins”: http://youtu.be/9JXl1czvh7g
Good News to YOU!