The great illusion at the heart of our unhappiness is the fantasy that we can solve our brokenness and foolishness. A hundred self-help manuals urge us to discover new, untapped potential; find our core of optimism, rise above the litter of past choices. If even one of these vain remedies really worked, the bookstores would be empty, and people everywhere would be living warm, productive, joyful lives. But we continue fumbling in the bargain bin of last year’s over-hyped, self-centered strategies, while Jesus offers just one word. “Come,” He says. “Come away and rest awhile.” “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow.” “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.” There are no better promises than these. There is no answer for our pain that heals us like God’s word of grace. Our rescue always comes from outside and above. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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The mind in which grace lights a flame becomes, in time, a different mind. By nature and by nurture, we’re self-absorbed and focused on what brings us gain, what brings us fame. The path of least resistance leads us to our touted rights, and often—yes—our touted righteousness. We are the measure of all things: we sort and filter for what gives us points, what gives us power, what adds to our advantage. But when the grace of a supremely other-centered God breathes through the “heats of our desire,” the self-absorption starts to wane, and we begin to be the kinder, wiser souls we’ve sometimes ached to be. We hear the broken, and remember we were broken, too. We see the wounded, and we search for bandages of love. We touch the hurting with a gentleness learned from the Healer who never, ever hurries. Grace turns us from unhelpful fools into new humans, wise and warm. The grace that saves us also makes us gracious. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste is the editorial assessment coordinator for Adventist Review.

"Journeys with Jesus" is an intimate, personal look at the walk we all have with our Savior. Inspirational, heart-tugging, thought-provoking vignettes of life's journey and life's decisions. Most of all, it points us to our Father, our Friend, as the Source of all wisdom, comfort, and peace. www.adventistreview.org

Fast-forward, if you can, to scenes our hearts are aching to be in. Redeemed at last from all the brokenness, the pettiness, the pain of earthly life, we stand before the throne with those from every nation, tribe, and people, breathing in the air of heaven and singing at the top of our lungs, “Salvation belongs to our God” (Rev 7:10). Does even one hand go up to get the Lord’s attention? — “I need to be sure my good deeds are recorded, that my sacrifice is written down somewhere.” “Preposterous,” you say—and right you are. It’s simply unimaginable that anyone who’s covered by the blood of Jesus would take some credit for a rescue owing just to Him. So why is it we now persist in counting up our virtues? Isn’t it evidence enough that we too often fail to grasp the overwhelming, undergirding goodness of our God? Grace is better than we first believed, more sweeping than we now believe, more joyous than we’ll ever believe. Put down your hand. Lift up your voice. The grace will always be amazing. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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We are wary for good reasons. We’ve had too much of hurt, of wounds, of promises that didn’t deliver. Nothing “too good to be true” should ever be believed. But grace presents us with impossibly good things—all backed up by the God who cannot lie and never exaggerates. “As far as the east is from the west, so far He removes our transgressions from us” (Ps 103:12). “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Eze 36:26).Was there ever better news? Can the God we’ve so much offended be the same who offers us a rich, forgiven, guilt-free life when we believe in Jesus? “In Him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes’” (2 Cor 2:20).Grace is the gift we’ll never earn from Him whose love we’ll never lose. What once we thought impossible is true and free and good—and ours. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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I bless them all—the friends who didn’t back away when I said clumsy, foolish things, or added insult to an injury. I bless the ones who held me in the grip of grace before I had an inkling they were doing anything at all. I call to mind the line of kind, consistent people who forgave before I knew how much I had offended, who didn’t hold my sins against me, or wait to even up the score. I thank the Lord who taught them grace that when my life was stirred by grace, I had a living, breathing demonstration standing right beside me. Grace has a face—or faces, actually—one, two or ten who make the gospel come to life by holding, healing, loving, serving. They are my church, my backstop, my community. Because of them, I dare to do some gracious act that covers sin or heals pain. They’ve made a choice, and so have I. We stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Until we grasp how much we’ve been forgiven, it will always seem unwise and difficult to forgive those who sin against us. When we forgive another person, we abandon our leverage over them; release the debt they owe us; throw open prison doors. This is a graciousness we can’t summon from within: until we’ve received God’s grace, we have none to give to others. You can’t wring kindness from a stone, or from a stony, unforgiven heart. But “the grace of God has appeared to all” (Titus 2:11), making possible our own redemption, and then the healing of our friendships, marriages, and communities. Grace truly received always becomes grace given. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Imagine—only for a moment—your life without the grace of God.  Every foolish act of adolescence; every spiteful, angry word you’ve said; every broken relationship would trail after you like dragging cannonballs uphill. There could be no forgiveness, but only possibly forgetfulness.  All things wounded would never heal.  The sun would never rise on faith or hope or possibilities. But we rejoice that grace has come to us in Jesus—that our stories are forever changed for better.  So grace always opens into gratitude.  We celebrate a rescue we could never accomplish because of what Christ accomplished for us. And He ever lives—it is His joy—to intercede for us, to turn our painful histories into stories that will bless and lift the world. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Lael Caesar is the associate editor of the Adventist Review magazine and loves his brothers and sisters across the world.

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