Psalm 139:7-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
Theme: God’s All-Reaching Grace, Even There”
Few weeks ago, Eva and I stepped out of the house, held hands and walked around the neighborhood. Like something propelling us, we ended up at the little docked almost at the corner of Teal Lake and US 41. There we sat for a while talking as we watched the sun go down across the colorful sky at the far end. As we also listened to the sound of the waves of the lake crushing upon the rock, the words of David recorded in Psalm 8:3-8, became very real to me in a renew sense. David wrote:
When I look up at the night skies, and see the works of your fingers-
the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place-
what are mere mortals that you think about them;
what are human beings that you pay attention to them?
When David looked at the spender and majesty of God’s creation, he just could not understand why God loves human beings so much. Whether you believe it or not, I come this morning to remind us once more that God loves you and me so much that there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
In our text this morning, David says there is nowhere he can flee from God’s presence. The Hebrew word “burrah,” that is translated flee in this text, usually indicates an attempt “to get away from.” David is saying that God never lets him get away. Even when he tries to escape to the highest height or the lowest depth of the ocean, even there, God’s hands will lead and hold him.
This is good news. It means that we stand in the inescapable presence of God. God loves us so much that He just won’t let us go even when we turn our backs. The word used to describe this love of God is grace.
From its Greek origin, Grace is Charis. It literally means ‘favour’, to bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior.
In its use of scripture, grace is God bending or stooping towards fallen and broken humanity with His love. It’s God chasing after us to show us unmerited favor. It is a gift of God to us. So, the bigger picture of this is that God is offering human kind something precious; something not on basis of merits; we don’t deserve it; it’s God’s gift of salvation.
But grace comes in four different facets which experienced at different times of our life journey. In the words of Acevedo and Olds, the first of these is “God’s All-Reaching Grace.” The fancy theological name for this is Prevenient Grace. The word Prevenient comes from a Latin word, meaning “to precede or to come before.” So Prevenient Grace is the God’s grace that comes before we even to acknowledge God.
Think about an unborn child. Although the baby has not yet been seen, touched and embraced by the parents, yet the parents love the expected child. We cannot wait for it to arrive before they show love. We go to the store and purchase the best things we can for the child that is yet to come. This is prevenient grace.
God does not wait until we turn to Him. God’s All-Reaching (prevenient) grace is available to us from the moment we enter this world. This is the first phase of God. It is God wooing and pursing us. It is God’s love that will never let us go. That is why the Apostle Paul writes, in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God did not wait for us to make it right. It is the grace that draws us to God. That is why Jesus declared that “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
God has chosen to be gracious to us because God knows everything about us. Eva and I have been together over two decades now, but we still don’t know everything about each other. Once in a while we discover something new about each other. But this is not with God. God knows all about us.
We see this in the first four verses of Psalm 139, we read, “Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away.”
An older version of our confessional prayer says to God, “all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden. God has the capacity to look past the externals and into the core of who we really are. Theologians call this God’s omniscience; it is God’s capacity to know everything there is to know. Sounds frightening, right? But it’s for our good.
God knows our shortcoming; He knows our hidden deeds; He know the poor choices and mistakes we make at times; He knows our struggle; He knows our pains. That is why God is extending to everyone His All- Reaching Grace, even there, to the criminals, to the outcasts, the drug addicts, to the alcoholic. God’s All-Reaching grace is being made available even to the ones on death-roll.
God is calling, inviting, and pursuing us with His All-Reaching grace. God is persistent, tireless and lovingly reaching out with His grace. Will you respond?
In his famous song “Your Grace Finds me, Matt Redman writes,
From the creation to the cross. There from the cross into eternity,
Your grace finds me; Yes, your grace finds me.
There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes, your grace finds me
To everyone here this morning, God is seeking and calling you and me into deeper relationship with Him. Jesus says in Revelations 3:20, ““Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. This is God’s All-Reaching Grace, reaching out to everyone in this room this morning. Will you open up the door of your heart? Will you allow God to come closer to you as He desires?
This is may be a word for someone you know who may be on the run from God, or it may even be a word for you. Know that God’s All-Reaching Grace surrounds you and that person each day, and you and I can be the channel of God’s grace to that person and the world around us.
God bless you.