(today i’d like to welcome my friend, jen, from finding heaven… here, she talks about the color of grace…)

For most of my life, I have lived in a world that is only black and white, where there is north or south, yes or no, here or there, right or wrong. Shades of gray existed only in a foreign land, in which I was fearful to step foot. I equated this land of gray with the wilderness, a place where I feel lost, unsure of my footing, and usually helpless. I cannot see clearly where I am going and I find myself grasping at the tiniest bits of light in hopes that, finally, a direct path will be illuminated.

Recent events in my life, though, have uncovered a fantastic truth. It is one that I would have never thought to look for in this land of foggy nothingness.

Grace is gray.

In a black and white world, there exist only two choices: right or wrong. Throughout my life, from an early age, I discovered that God has a plan, a “best” plan, and because of my competitive nature and my desire to please, I have for the most part stuck to The Plan. I learned to ask God a lot of questions before I delved into something. I prayed for discernment. I asked others to pray. I sought answers in the Scriptures. I wanted to know with every fiber of my being that I was making the right choice because I didn’t want to be wrong. I didn’t want to be punished or laughed at or a failure. I wanted to follow His plan because I wanted the protection it seemed to afford, and like most people-pleasers, I didn’t want to find myself in trouble.

But what happens when suddenly I become unsure of The Plan? What happens when I go to God with my questions and He doesn’t answer them? What happens when my continual pleas for direction and light and concrete, step-by-step instructions are met with silence? I’ll tell you what happens —

I fall apart.

I become awash in fear. I whine and complain that He isn’t there. I lay out every thing that could possibly go awry. I check and double-check my motives. I turn inward and think I must be doing something wrong. I drown in the muck and mire. I stumble on the briars. I lose hope.

But then, in the grayness, there it is. His Hand outstretched. Grace. Grace to not know, but still take a step. To consider that maybe, at this time, there is no right or wrong answer, but just an opportunity to explore a new experience. And knowing that with that step, there are no guarantees of success. People could laugh; I could be wrong.

But there is a freedom of striking out on faith alone. Stepping out in the unknown means I’m finally willing to risk all my pride, all my self-protective instincts, all my fear of failure. And, in the end, if the road I seek to pave out of the wilderness is not the right one, even if I am still awash in the gray for awhile longer, I know that His Hand will still be holding mine, extending grace, extending redemption. For through this process, through finding grace in the gray, I have unclasped the leash of fear that kept me tethered to God because I was afraid of punishment. And instead, I have clasped my hand in His, knowing that He will always love me, always watch over me, and direct me if I begin to go astray. And I will lovingly serve my God who empowers me to walk in faith.