It was Steve and a twelve-string guitar. That was it. Anita and I were hooked.
We’d sing these simple four-chord songs over and over and cry. It was so unadorned and directed to God. I had been around the block a few times in my years of being a Christian. As a musician, I had played in almost every state in festivals, clubs, colleges, high schools and churches (okay, not a lot of churches; they nearly always complained it was too loud). I had exposure to lots of different streams of doctrines and methodologies in the Body of Christ. I had gone through a number of phases in my own spiritual journey: from Jesus people to charismatic movement to a Pentecostal denomination to Word-of-faith and on and on. I had gone through periods of throwing away my secular records, tossing out our television, witnessing door-to-door, arguing with cults on the street corners, and wrestling with my own faith. And very dry periods as well. All fairly normal, at least I think.
But this was different. It felt like, well, grace. That’s the best I can describe it. Simple, heart-washing grace. Somehow the performance aspect of Christianity, or at least my version of it, was refreshingly gone. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I never really thought I was “performance”-oriented in my faith, but the idea that I’ve got to do better, I’ve got to believe harder, I’ve got to trust more—though none of those are necessarily bad—somehow sneaked into affecting how I thought God thought of me.
One day Jesus was teaching on our need to forgive. After hearing that, the apostles cried to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” Oddly, Jesus went the opposite direction: He said you don’t need much faith at all, only the size of a mustard seed. Try wrapping your cerebrum around that one.
Grace requires very little faith. It’s a gift, after all. I just have to receive it and give it away. That’s good news to us crusty old believers who get that mixed up over the years as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Grace is the practical expression of the love of God, the God of love.
Meditate on this: the same grace that saves you is the same grace that sustains you.
I think that’s what I felt walking into that living room in 1984. And I never want to lose that.