What Grace Sounds Like

I pondered the words of the old familiar hymn and repeated them over in my head but couldn’t get past the first line: Amazing grace how sweet the sound. I know that song ten ways from Sunday but the idea that grace had a sound was striking to me.

What does grace sound like?

If it’s sweet – I imagine a chorus of angelic voices singing in beautiful harmony. And if it’s amazing – a crash, a bang so loud that it commands my attention daring me not to look away or recognize the total awesomeness of it.

Can it really be both? It seems like a contradiction- this cacophony of sounds- but the soundtrack to which Jesus’s life played out didn’t harmonize with the ways of this world either.

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{image via The Graphics Fairy}

Serving in music ministry at our church is a delicate test of striking the right balance between incorporating popular Christian tunes with old standards. Sometimes we’ll remix old hymns in a new way and at last count we were up to around five versions of Amazing Grace. Depending on the month and the theme of the service you could hear those famous words set to the tune of “Here Comes the Sun” made popular by The Beatles or Johnny Cash’s, “Folsom Prison” in addition to the traditional refrain.

You may wonder how those secular melodies can match with those sacred words. And you wouldn’t be the first to raise an eyebrow.

Sometimes grace doesn’t make sense either. But it works.

When every fleshy tendency of mine is to fight back, grace whispers surrender.

Giving in to grace is something I struggle with, maybe you do too? Like a note held too long that goes sharp or flat, grace withheld has a similar effect. It’s on beat and on time echoing give, not grasp.

And grace sounds a lot like the invitation to my friend Sue’s virtual table –  and the thought of “saying grace” reminds me of the blessing my granddaddy would offer before each meal. Far from perfect in many of his earthly ways he knew where he could find a double helping of grace when he set the table with thanks.

wm earl

And though I wear the shirt fairly often – grace isn’t my go-to get-up. It pairs well with gratitude but sometimes, I’m a mix-matched mess and I don’t speak it or wear it well. But there’s hope…

“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

To me, grace sounds like the swishing of fabric being smoothed out. A tape measure unrolling. Quiet and thoughtful estimation. It’s the pattern by which we work to weave the right words together.

Grace resonates when we understand the paths people are walking in right now and not where we wish for them to be. And it’s not just for others, but for ourselves as well. Grace gently calls us to abandon our expectations and rights simply speak kindness. To release offenses and start fresh. To declare forgiveness and proclaim blessings. Even if it’s undeserved and especially when it’s unearned.

When we’re out of tune with grace, we screech like nails on a chalk board.

Grace sounds less like rehearsing my complaints to God about what’s been done or said to me and more like reveling in the faithfulness, goodness and beauty of a gracious Savior. It’s the joyful cry of His praise ever on my lips and the quiet murmur of prayers.  It’s the hushed waiting on His faithful hand moving me to speak softly or hold my tongue.

Grace sings God’s praises and silences my petty protests.

After 20 years of guitar playing I’ve done well in avoiding barre chords. But the jig is up since an impending duet with a piano calls for simpler methods on my end to play through all the key changes. Though I strain and struggle and hit some mighty sour notes when my hand cramps up, I’m reminded with practice I will get stronger and better.

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In much the same way, God lets us practice these grace notes again and again never tiring of our attempts. Anyone who’s ever listened to an instrument being learned can fathom just a tiny bit of how amazingly sweet His grace really is – it’s unmerited, unmatched and undeserved.

And perhaps, Peter heard it the clearest- even before his actions cut sharply…

“When you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31b)

It sounds a whole lot like God knows what we’re prone to and yet He still has a purpose for us – even when we turn a deaf ear – healing our hearts and our hearing as he did for both Peter and the wounded soldier. Jesus invites us to be whole and yielded, lulled by the sweet melody of grace.

Do you hear it?

What does grace sound like to you today?

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you into His eternal glory will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. ~1 Peter 5:10

P.S. I’m working on some more sounds of grace for you friend but I don’t want you to miss out on hearing what’s in store! If you’ve already signed up for the newsletter, you’re all set! If you’re not sure or have never signed up click here to get the scoop and a set of printable scripture cards! ♥

Linking up with these lovely ladies:

Seeking God

21 thoughts on “What Grace Sounds Like

    1. Aww thanks Linda… it’s funny how little ideas while we’re in the shower can turn into such a blessing…! I’m so humbled by all your encouragement each week!

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  1. I’m your neighbor at Sitting Among Friends today and SO glad I clicked over. I plan to spend a lot more time here! Your words are like poetry, like song! Just beautiful and so powerful! Love this -> “Grace sings God’s praises and silences my petty protests.”

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    1. Oh Liz- the feeling is totally mutual after finding your blog linked up beside mine– I think we’re kindred spirits!! Excited to get to know you better my friend! And thank you for your kind words… xx

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  2. I’m just loving all these vintage photos you’re sharing! 🙂 It’s true that when I consider the grace God offers to us time after time, that grace takes on a much fuller meaning to me personally. I love what you said about God never tiring of our attempts, but welcomes us completely. I enjoyed the peek into your role in the music ministry of your church — what a joy that must be! 🙂 (Speaking from someone not very musically inclined after years of piano and who can’t sing at all!) Such a good post! xo

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    1. Vintage pics for the win! LOL! I’m gonna need more of my family photo albums…! I think I’m finally starting to understand just how amazing this grace thing is myself. It’s about time, right? Being involved in the music is both filling and draining for this introvert with extroverted tendencies! I’m glad this post rang true to you. Thank you for your weekly encouragement Valerie.. ♥

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  3. “Grace resonates when we understand the paths people are walking in right now and not where we wish for them to be.” This part is so difficult because it also requires a touch of mercy… which I struggle with. Great post!!

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    1. Amen Susan— it’s far easier for me to judge than just give grace… We’re all a work in progress- but thank goodness for God’s never ending mercy. Thanks so much for stopping over and saying hello!

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    1. Thanks for being here Richella and for leaving your sweet feedback ♥Thank you! I’m hoping to keep honing my listening (and resting!) skills in good company. Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. … Oh Richella, Thank you ♥ I’m humbled beyond measure…. I feel like this post struck a chord with a lot of folks and I’m just honored to be able to give the glory back to God through it. He is good! Thank you so much. xo

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