Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There But for the Grace of God

For some crazy reason it hit me today that this statement is absurd. So let’s say I’m walking down the street and I see a homeless person and I think to myself “there but for the grace of God go I” as so many of us do, and I feel sufficiently humbled that some people have to live in the streets and I feel a little bad that I make a good salary and I’m going to home to a warm house and a home-cooked meal and I have people around me, people who care, I’ve got my health and I have a few bucks in my pocket to blow on coffee at Starbucks (which I might add I would never do because Starbucks has the worst coffee on the face of the earth). I have a good job, a nice home in a nice town and I get to take nice vacations at the seashore every year. And this guy is homeless. Got nothing but what he can carry with him and he sleeps on a subway grate at night covered by a box.

There but for the grace of God.

Which means that for some reason God has seen fit to offer me His grace but not this poor gentleman who is homeless, penniless and blanket-less?

This phrase does not work.

It is right up there with the exclamation that tragedies are somehow “God’s will”. I actually heard somebody say that several years ago when numerous children were gunned down at a schoolhouse in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. One of the parents of the dead children used this very phrase, acquiescing her dead child to God’s will. Are you kidding me? This is God’s will? With gods like that who needs ruthless, blood-thirsty dictators?

Seriously are there truly people out there that could think that God offers his grace to me but not you? Or that crazy, out of control gunmen running rampant in schools is part of God’s plan? What the hell kind of plan is that?

It boggles the mind, seriously.


  1. I don't get it either. I'm not too sure where God's will starts and free will begins. I think God's grace is available to anyone who chooses to receive it. But grace and will are two different things. Now I'm more confused than I was when I started...

  2. Ain't that always the way. I got a kick out of your last statement. I think there are no pat and definitive answers. Confusion, I have found, is an integral part of the process and the fact is that we have to UN-learn a lot before we can start re-learning. However if we persevere I do think we eventually come to conclusions that we are comfortable with, conclusions that resonate within us as valid.

    And then something else will come along that throws us into another state of confusion. A bit of a challenge to be sure but it's a whole hell of a lot better than giving up and not caring.

    I will say this. I strongly believe that it is a relationship (between God and us) that is very much collaborative in which we are free to make our choices and he is there along the way whispering in our ears. One of our main goals is to remember to remember that he is there and he does speak to us if we will only listen to ourselves.