Layers of Grace
“Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness . . .”
“Just look at the layers in there,” the baking competition judge said in her most beautiful soft English accent. The words came out as “laiys” and “theh.” The camera showed a close-up shot of her pinky brushing against well-seen layers of pastry and butter, pastry and butter, in a traditional from-scratch puff pastry. The contestant—who had meticulously taken the time to roll out dough and cold butter, refrigerate, turn the pastry, fold it this way and that, mark the plastic wrap with how many times it had been folded, and then do it all over again several times—took a deep, satisfying breath. The Great British Bake-Off commenced.
We see much of the world in layers. Soil has layers that tell stories of its past. Rocks show layers of wearing and smoothing. Trees’ rings are layers of growth.
John tells a story at the very beginning of his first book, one we know as one of the Gospels, of a Word—a funny subject to then be referred to with a masculine pronoun. Isn’t a word a thing, not a person? But not this Word. John tells His story, the One who was at creation and was Creator Himself, the One who created life that brought light, the One who shines in the darkness.
Then this Word came down, down to us, what He had created. We didn’t accept Him. We didn’t want him. He became one of us, and many did not receive Him. But those of us who did receive Him, He granted us the ability to become His children, children born without flesh or blood, but with spirit. And because He lived among us, we were given the gift of seeing His glory, the glory of the One who sent Him.
And the culmination of this grand story of sacrifice and love and spirit and glory was . . . layers.
Grace upon grace.
Doesn’t He know that we rejected Him? Doesn’t He know that we could never have received Him without Him allowing it in the first place? Doesn’t He know that we are just creatures? that we’re so far beneath His kingly glory we could never reach up and touch Him?
Even still, He comes down to touch us, and that touch is grace. And every touch of His love in our lives is grace. His grace didn’t stop at the cross. He layers it on us lavishly, layer upon layer, grace upon grace.
When God gave us the right to become His children (John 1:12), He extended one part of His grace, that was the foundation upon which all grace given after would stand. When we accept Him as Savior and begin our relationship with Him, He starts the layering process. The Church, His gift of community on earth, is another layer of grace. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which seals us and comforts us, is another layer (John 14:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22). God’s conviction of and discipline on our sin is a layer of grace as He lovingly guides us, His children (Hebrews 12:6-7). The inspired Word of God layers more grace upon us—we have the very words of our Father preserved for us, to complete our life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The spiritual gifting God has strategically placed into each of our lives is another layer—one by which we reach into other believers’ lives and they reach into ours (Romans 12, Ephesians 4).
Our circumstances shift and sway from person to person and even from day to day in our individual lives. Yet when God promised us that “His grace is sufficient for us” (2 Corinthians 12:9), He didn’t expect us to somehow muster a feeling of “being graced” on the days when we feel especially helpless. We already are helpless—every day, every moment. The overarching grace that He layers on us over and over is consistent daily, regardless of whether we feel the most distraught or whether we feel like one big accomplishment. That grace is there, every day, grace on top of grace on top of His glorious grace.
It is His fullness that grants us the layers, not based on our personalities, our needs, or even our wants. Completely dependent on His character, God’s grace is given, which means it will never run out, never turn sour, never stop.
Grace after grace. He knew how much we would need it.