God’s grace — what Brennan Manning defined as the acceptance of being profoundly and forever beloved by God — is a favorite subject of mine. Yet, the subject creates detractors who deem all my grace-speak as spiritual leniency.
“You’ve turned the grace of God into nothing but a circus net,” one critic wrote not long ago. Well, I like the idea of a circus net; it is a fortunate choice of words. For if I have indeed turned the grace of God into a circus net, it is because I know what it is like to lose my grip and fall. At such times the “net” had better be below me or I’m a goner.
If you don’t believe me, go visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Constructed during the Great Depression, it became a California icon that has withstood the elements for more than 70 years. Few living Americans remember the San Francisco skyline without that bridge. The suspension towers are 750 feet high. Construction at this altitude, along with contrary winds, icy fog, unpredictable weather and occasional seismic tremors, made for one of the most dangerous places to work in the world. With all these factors added into the equation, the project moved at a snail’s pace.
That is until the bridge’s chief engineer, Joseph Strauss, installed a gigantic safety net beneath the bridge. By giving the workers an increased sense of security, they progressed far more quickly and efficiently than before. They were so efficient that the project came in at more than $1 million under budget — that’s in Depression-era dollars — an outrageous pile of cash for the time. But the greatest savings wasn’t the money. It was the men working on the iron high in the air. Nineteen workers fell into that net during the construction of the Golden Gate and every one of them walked away without a scratch.
Having cheated death, these workers proclaimed themselves “The Halfway-To-Hell Club,” saved by that miraculous web of safety. So, is this grace? When we slip and fall, will we actually be rescued by a soft landing in the catching, loving hands of God? Is God’s grace really a safety net? Yes. No fall is too far and no loss of grip is too foolish or irresponsible because God’s grace never loses its bounce, and “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.”
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. His latest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” Read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me/.