Twila Paris is one of the people that made contemporary Christian music what it is today. Her music does not get the airplay that it once did, but we should never forget that she was writing worship music for the contemporary church (and trying to do so with theological integrity) long before it was trendy.
While I was on vacation a few weeks ago, I heard a song from her that I had not heard in a long time. And it really caught my attention. “Daughter of Grace” tells what at first seems to be two very different stories. One is the story of a moral deviant who has made a mess of her life. The other is the story of a moral overachiever, a woman who works hard to be someone that we can admire and who is proud of her accomplishments.
Paris’s point, however, is that these two women have far more in common than either of them understand. Each comes to a place where she has no choice but to admit her failings, and each comes to a place where she recognizes her need for help. When each woman reaches out to God for the help that she now knows she needs, something remarkable happens. Paris describes it this way.
Carried in the arms of love and mercy
Breathing in a second wind
Shining with the light of each new morning
Looking into hope again
Unable to take another step
Finally ready to begin
Born for a second time in a brand new place
Daughter of grace
What is Paris’s point? Like Nicodemus, we all need to be “born again” (cf. John 3:1-15). We all need to come to terms with our brokenness, and we all need to experience the healing and transforming power of God in our lives.
Like Nicodemus, many of us are not sure that the call to be “born again” is good news. Some of us have wandered in sin so long that we are not sure that there is any other way to live. Even if there is another way to live, we have become comfortable in our dysfunction and aren’t sure that we want to give it up. Some of us have tried, in our own strength, to be good disciples of Jesus—or at least to be good people. The thought that God wants something more from us just does not seem fair. And some of us have walked both roads (perhaps simultaneously). We like our secret stash of illicit pleasure, especially in light of all that we have already given up in pursuit of spiritual or moral excellence.
But Paris insists that the call to be “born again” is, in fact, good news. Yes, it demands that we give up the sovereignty over our lives that we so deeply cherish, but it also offers us something that we cannot earn—God’s unmerited favor reaching out to meet us at the precise point of our deepest need. Paris summarizes this good news with the following words.
Grace is there for everyone
Grace is always free
We must all depend on grace
Have you become a daughter, or son, of grace? If not, I pray that you will consider carefully Twila Paris’s message. I hope that you will turn to the God that saved her, me, and many others throughout the centuries and allow Him to transform your life.