The Joy of Preventative Grace

There is an old saying you probably know that states, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” It is not found in a Bible passage and is usually attributed to a preacher named John Bradford from the 1500’s. He wrote it in a more personal manner by saying, “there, but for the grace of God, go John Bradford.” It appears that his words caught on and became applied to believers everywhere. By the early 1900’s the phrase was regularly used by people across the globe, and we still use it today.

I know I have stated this one little sentence repeatedly in my life. It is uttered when I hear the story of high school classmates whose life turned out as less than glamorous. These words are spoken when I hear of a college classmate who left the ministry because of some dark sin in his life. I speak it when I see a Christian make a poor decision that could have been avoided. My life truly bears witness to the truth, “there, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Most days I see my need for grace, and I am thankful for the forgiveness I find in the work of Christ. Occasionally I need to be reminded of the grace that I do not feel every day. Today I am thankful for the grace of God that prevented me from walking down some dark paths.

1. I am thankful for my family. I am grateful for parents who stayed together and gave me a great life. I am sure there were days they both felt like giving up on our family. God blessed me by preventing me from being raised in a fractured family.

2. I am thankful for my Church. Some of my earliest memories are of people in the Church teaching me the Bible. There have been people pointing me the right direction my whole life. Who knows how many mistakes I might have made without their guidance on my journey?

3. I am thankful for my relationships. I am grateful to God for not allowing me to develop a deeper relationship with that one girl in high school. She is now on her fourth marriage. I am thankful I did not marry that girl in college who did not want to be a preacher’s wife. I know she would have made me quit what I am doing years ago.

These are just a few of the ways God has guided my life with grace and mercy.

I am intensely aware of the grace that forgives my failures, but I need to be continually reminded of the grace that guides me every day. I could have walked through so much heartache and hardship in life and yet God prevented me from going down those paths.

Today is an excellent opportunity to remind myself of the truth that, “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” Maybe you needed to be reminded today too.

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