author: Sally Golding
‘It is by grace you have been saved, through faith- this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God- not by works so that no-one can boast.’ Ephesians 2:8-9.
I don’t know how many times I had quoted that scripture in my near 30 years of being a Christian, when I was confronted with the reality that I didn’t really believe it! My following testimony will explain how I had been operating on a ‘saved by grace, kept by works’ value system.
I became a Christian when I was 17, learning the wonderful truths of God’s unconditional, sacrificial love. However, I didn’t read my Bible on a regular basis, nor was I disciplined with prayer and this habit was not then helped by working shifts as a nurse where routine was not part of my life. I would talk to the Lord often and be aware of His presence, but ‘regular’ prayer and Bible reading were not factored into my life, so the maturing process was not as it should have been even though the important relationship with the Lord had been established.
Seasons changed and from working shifts to having children, habits didn’t improve, but whilst Ephesians 2 verses 8 and 9 were well-known to me ( as they had been quoted from the ‘pulpit’ on many occasions), at the back of my mind, I somehow thought that God would be more pleased with me if I ‘did’ more prayer and Bible reading. So I would have spates of reading large chunks of my Bible and trying to pray more routinely but of course I would fall back into old habits!
About 3 years ago, during a time of particularly enjoying God’s presence, I was ‘feeling’ Him near me all the time in spite of not really ‘doing’ anything. So I asked the Lord when this season would end as I wasn’t working to sustain it. Immediately, His response to me was, ‘My grace NEVER runs out.’ I sensed this ‘hit’ my spirit- like a rebuke, but with amazing reassurance- and I just stood in the street where I was and worshipped Him!
This was the beginning of a journey I am still on. Following, what I call my ‘Grace Encounter’, the next morning I woke up thinking of a book I had only ever seen on a shelf in the Christian bookshop, ‘What’s so amazing about grace?’ by Philip Yancey. Wondering if it really was the Lord speaking to me or whether I had made it up, I was reluctant to buy the book for it just to go part-read onto our bookshelf! So first I asked a friend if she had a copy I could borrow to ‘try it out’ before I purchased one but she wasn’t sure and was going to look for me. In the meantime I came across a second-hand copy for just £1 in a local bookshop.
I read this book and because it had such a profound effect on me, I started to read it again and make notes on it(I’m not recommending the book as such because the Lord was speaking specifically to me through it). The end result was I had a greater understanding of the grace of God towards me, enabling me to be more gracious to others.
The amazing thing is that since the ‘encounter’ I have read my Bible both more in quantity and frequency, have seen more answered prayers and have a greater compassion for others, none of it driven by a ‘works mentality’, but rather inspired and spurred on by a desire to know this God of grace and give away the blessing that has come to me. I am saved by grace and empowered by grace to do the works- I give Him all the glory!