• By: Pastor Betsy Dart

  • It is from the errors and obstacles in my life that I learn the most. God's mercy keeps filling me with a deeper awareness of God's forgiving love and grace. I love the turn of words in bulletin bloopers. These errors often lead to both a smile and a new idea. One bulletin listed the reading from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 in which St. Paul is explaining how Jesus took Paul at his worst and showed overwhelming mercy to him and all sinners. The Hymn of the Day read "A maxing Grace."

    Grace to the max—what a refreshing idea. Ponder the passage from Timothy in the light of this maximum grace. "The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." It would seem so easy for Paul to lean on his achievements as an ambassador for Christ. He could speak about his four missionary journeys proclaiming the gospel. He could speak of the hardships he had endured for the sake of the Church. He could speak of the people he had helped to grow in faith. He could justifiably say, "Look at me and follow my example and you will be blessed by God." But because Paul is lifting up his own accomplishments even though it is for the kingdom of God, there is little room for God's grace and power. St. Paul instead calls attention to the errors and obstacles in his life—greater than the worst he could see in the lives of others. Paul says look at the change that God has done in my life—formerly I was a blasphemer, a persecutor and a man of violence, but now God has strengthened me and appointed me to his service. Like the song says, "Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see." Paul says, "I received mercy, so that in me, as the worst, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. Because Paul is lifting up the saving work of Jesus to change our lives for good, there is maxi-mum room to see God's power. Grace to the max.

    Consider what you have learned from the obstacles and errors of your own life. Give thanks with me and with Paul for the mercy of God which fills us with hope and awe. "To the King of the ages, immortal, in-visible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."