Hearing others’ stories of how God’s amazing grace is at work in their lives can help us see that he is also working miracles in our own lives.
Too often, perhaps, we think that God’s grace can arrive only after we have somehow earned it. After all—as we read in the Book of Mormon—it is “by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). But thinking we have to earn grace is a mistake. Such a conception defies both the very definition of the word—“unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification”—as well as (I believe) Nephi’s intention when teaching that changing our hearts is an active, not a passive, endeavor.
In his beautiful essay “Burning the Couch: Some Stories of Grace,” which won first place in BYU Studies’ 2019 personal essay contest, Robbie Taggert shares three poignant vignettes. These stories of grace illuminate Taggert’s moving conception of loving Heavenly Parents who are always eager to rush to our aid and help us put out the fires that we sometimes start in our own lives. To open, Taggert shares a story from his adolescence. He and some friends decided to light an abandoned couch on fire. They ultimately nearly started a forest fire, but before the flames could spread, a firefighter came to extinguish the burning couch. Expecting punishment, Taggert and his friends were surprised and relieved when the fireman simply walked off after completing his task.
This experience helped to transform Taggert’s idea of who God really was. “When I was younger,” he writes, “I thought of God as an austere figure waiting to catch me messing up, a god who never laughed. I imagined him as angry and eager to punish. I no longer picture him that way. My God sings and laughs and blesses and gives and forgives seventy times seven times and then some.” Taggert matter-of-factly reminds us that “sometimes we light our lives on fire.” And yet, amidst the smoke and flames which are the suffering of mortality, a sacred space opens up where grace can flow—“God shows up, like that firefighter that day by the lake, ready to help and wearing a smile.”
Read Robbie Taggert’s essay “Burning the Couch: Some Stories of Grace” (including the other two inspiring stories of grace).
Source: BYU Studies
—Josh Stevenson, Latter-day Saint Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY ADAM STEVENSON
Find more insights
For more insights on grace, read President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s 2015 general conference address “The Gift of Grace.”
Consider also reading Elder David A. Bednar’s 2004 talk, also from general conference, “In the Strength of the Lord” to learn how we can gain confidence by relying on the Lord.