Pictures of Grace

Grace is a hard thing to grasp. Reconciling undeserving offenders with unmerited grace is difficult to do.

With biblical words like sin and depravity, justice and mercy, it’s even harder to explain.

But, occasionally a picture finds its way into the culture, an incomplete, yet beautiful illustration of costly grace personified.

I came across a news story, which you can read here, about an 18-year-old boy whose decision to drink and drive resulted in the death of his two passengers. Facing between 15 months and 30 years, this young man’s life will never be the same. On the night of his graduation, he became an accidental murderer.

Takunda Mavinda feels the weight of his crime. Through tears, he addressed the victims’ families. “I’m so sorry that I took two bright, intelligent, wonderful people out of this world …. I wish … I’m so sorry.”

A plea was made to the court on his behalf.

I am begging you to let Takunda make something of himself in the real world — don’t send him to prison and get hard and bitter, that boy has learned his lesson a thousand times over and he’ll never make the same mistake again.

These sound like the words of a mother desperate to keep her son from a 30 year sentence. They’re not. They are the grace-filled words of Lauren See, whose 17-year-old brother, Tim was in the vehicle that night. He died in the crash.

I can’t imagine. To stand on behalf of the one who drove your brother into an early grave is incredible. Seeing pictures of her father hugging Takunda took it over the top. Could I do that? I’d like to say yes, but I don’t know. That is costly grace.

And yet it’s only a cheap illustration of the grace found in the story of Christ.

A perfect God comes to dwell with people who reject him and ultimately murder him in the most humiliating way possible. And Jesus lays down his life willingly, taking on the judgment that we should have received so that we might receive love and acceptance.

That’s like a man on trial for murder. The evidence is inescapable and the sentence is death. In a crazy turn of events, the judge calls his son into the courtroom. He orders an officer to cuff his son and escort him to an execution room.

The murderer is taken back as well, to watch as the son is strapped in a chair and drained of his life. The judge approaches the man. “My son has taken your place. Because of this, you are free to go.”

We don’t have a category for that, but that is exactly what Christ did on the cross. A perfect man was drained of life so that broken men might receive life. This is the gospel. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s available.

Stories like Takunda’s are just reminders, little snapshots of amazing grace.

Have you ever seen a picture of grace? Share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Bethan (Creative Commons)

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2 responses to “Pictures of Grace”

  1. Kelsey says :

    Incredible account. Incredible concept. Author Mary Doria Russel wrote a trilogy of awe-inspiring sci-fi novels that contain some of the most powerful theology I have ever encountered. In it she quotes Aeschylus translated from the Greek:
    “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
    This grace is unfathomable. Unreal. That father will never forget that he lost a son. But he consciously refuses to persecute this young man. I’m positive those emotions were not bourn immediately upon the occasion of some officer of the law pounding on his front door to tell him that his son is dead. I’m not sure I could do the same in his stead. I am not a parent. But it couldn’t have been easy. Grace is a complicated, difficult action, in and of itself. The cross (and the events preceding) is evidence of that active, painful process.

    • Anthony Garcia says :

      Kelsey, your comments could stand alone as a post. Great stuff. Grace is a complicated mess of beauty.

      I want to check out that trilogy; it sounds like a great read. Thanks so much.

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