I was running late for my check-up at the dentist the other day and as I sped down the freeway, I thought, "Well, they'll give me a 10-minute grace period. Grace period! I knew I needed to examine further as it pertains to the kingdom! My Webster's defines a grace period as, "A period after a due date or deadline during which an obligation may still be fulfilled without penalty or suspension of benefits. In other words a person has missed the deadline, but the one obligated to fulfill the benefits STILL does so without applying some sort of penalty, default, cancellation, or fee, . Some businesses will grant a grace period as a courtesy and for customer relations. But, after the period is over, you are out of luck. You missed it! Well now, "grace" חֵן (hen) in the Old Testament of the Bible, describes that which is gracious, especially the favorable disposition of one person toward another. It is to show mercy. Most uses of hen is used in the figurative language of the phrase, "to find favor in in someone's eyes." Moses found favor in the eyes of the Lord. It is from the basis of having found favor in God's eyes that Moses intercedes for the people (Gen. 34:9). Favor in the eyes of the Lord points out the notion that favor is expressed on one's countenance. Even the word face ( panim ) is sometimes translated "favor" (Psalm 119:58). We can better understand the metaphor of God turning his face toward his people ( Psalm 25;16 ) as well as hiding his face from those who refuse to turn from their sin (Deut. 32:20). Ah, but in his abundant mercy, JEHOVAH EL RACHUM remains faithful to his promises! He is faithful, Beloved! He sends his Spirit to renew, refresh, and restore the wayward people and to bring them back within his favor. Ha Rachaman ~ "The Merciful One". Thank God for a grace period!
We are new Testament Christians, and as in the Old Testament, "finding favor in the presence of God" means God has an attitude of kindness toward someone desiring to prosper them. Charis is grace in the sense of "unmerited favor" It is no good thing we do! We've all heard someone declare they are "blessed and highly favored". Such a position in God highlights God's decision to bless and that person for his good purpose. It is not us, it is God. In Romans 15:15, Paul acknowledges that God's "grace" has called and equipped him to be an Apostle of Christ's Gospel. Beloved, we, too, must be graced to do whatever we do in building the Body of Christ! A Sunday school teacher, usher, driver, choir member pastor, evangelist, etc., is equipped by God to be effective in ministry. It's that equipment which makes and gives one a passion to work ministry. In that sense, a "grace period' is that space of time when God is preparing such an one. The Bible warns against putting a novice to work with the people of God (I Tim. 3:6) Folk need to sit under the uncompromising Word of God, get their hearts and minds transformed and allow God to do a work in them. Salvation is "by grace through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Just because there is a need in the house does not mean just anyone can fill it. That can actually do more harm than good. The graciousness which comes from the favor of God on one's life is mandatory. Notice we speak not of houses, cars, money in the bank. Who would not much rather have God's kindness toward them? We have to be careful not to hastily get ahead of God outside of the "grace period". In the natural such a period is usually a short 10 minutes. I don't know what a spiritual 10 minutes is, but I know one has to be in route to their destination. If I had re-routed to McDonald's or something I would have missed my appointment. Well there are divine appointments, a moed, too! Stay in his grace! Stay the course! Stay in the Word for the Epistle of James says, "And receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. Our souls, the seat of our emotions, feelings, desires and intellect need that "grace period". The Apostle Paul did not begin his missionary trips to the Gentiles right after his Road to Damascus experience. He was graced, prepared and trained over a number of years. Surely, he preached in the intervening years.
There is significance to numbers in scripture: He telleth the number of the stars" Psalm 147:4. He "bringeth out their host by number" ( Is. 40:26) The number "5" is God's number of grace. We have to know there is a period of preparation and training for the call of God on one's life. There comes a trying and a testing, a "dark night of the soul". Sometimes it can seem like God is far away, can't it? But, oh here the Word of the Lord:
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,But with great compassion and mercy I will gather you to Myself again. “In an outburst of wrath I hid My face from you for a moment,But with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,”Says the Lord your Redeemer. Isaiah 54
You have not labored in vain! Know that the Lord is faithful who has chosen you. When you are tempted to think " The Lord has abandoned me, And my Lord has forgotten me,", remind yourself that indeed, He has inscribed a picture of you on the palms of his hands. Both hands! Be encouraged! The grace period is just that: "A brief moment" in the eyes of God. In a "favorable time " which follows, He promises to answer, help, restore, and keep watch over you. Believe God! The grace of God, your Redeemer, firmly establishes you in righteousness. It's HIS work, HIS doing! Enter in to his rest and know that this peace, righteousness, security, and even triumph over opposition is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. Receive it! Break forth into joyful shouting and rejoice!