I read this on a website called "Exploring Christianity" as I was studying the meaning of the word 'grace' in scripture. It made me cry to read it and think of the gracious love and acceptance God has for me, for us, for everyone! So I wanted to share it here:
[To illustrate the meaning of grace, a] story is told by Rob Parsons in ‘Low on Grace’, an article in Christianity. Some years ago he was invited by Dr R. T. Kendal, then pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, to hear a guest preacher at the morning service and have lunch with him afterwards. On inquiring who the mystery preacher was, he was told, “It’s Jimmy Bakker—the disgraced American television evangelist who was jailed for fraud.” Parsons continues:
The man I heard preach that day had been broken by his experiences. He has lost his reputation, his ministry, his wife and his living. And he expressed deep sorrow and repentance, not only for what he had been charged with in court, but for some of the ways he had gone about raising money in the first place. He told a little of what life had been like for him in prison. One of his jobs was to clean the toilets, a task for which he wore a special set of old clothes. One day a guard came to his cell and announced that he had a visitor. Bakker was dirty, unshaven and had just got back from his cleaning job, still wearing his latrine duty clothes. He asked the guard if he could have a moment to make himself presentable, but his request was denied.
As he made his way down the corridor towards the governor’s office, Bakker wondered who was there to see him. At that time of his life most Christians wouldn’t have crossed the street for him, let alone come to visit him in prison. When he entered the room his visitor strode towards him and Bakker found himself engulfed in the warm embrace of Billy Graham. And it was the Graham family who, when he was released, asked him to join them for church. He remembers that they kept a seat for him, next to them, at the front.
That is grace!
He comes to us as we are, dirty and ashamed and ruined, and He loves us..He embraces us...and He gives us value and worth...He considers us important...He considers us clean and right...and He gives us a place of honor beside Him, the Ruler of the Universe! Grace loves us when noone else will...grace gives us dignity..grace gives us hope...grace gives us a place of belonging...grace sets us free from our past, free from ourselves...grace forgets our messes...grace nurtures something wonderful inside us...grace gives us back what sin had stolen from us...grace makes everything sweet and fresh and new...grace makes life worth living again...grace makes us a carefree and innocent child again...grace frees us to be real, loved, and valuable...grace makes us a whole person..grace loves us back to life!