Skip to content

R&V In the Word: Hazy Air and Amazing Grace

Image: Aranxa Esteve

Read Ephesians 2:1-10 MSG

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. 

Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

  • Ephesians 2:7-10 MSG

A few weeks ago, we took our teen boys to their first large concert at an outdoor venue near our home. We’d been looking forward to this show for weeks—music is a major part of our family’s life, a source of joy and connection between us, and the songs by this artist in particular run like embroidery through our family’s story.

This particular venue has a pavilion and lawn section, and we had tickets for the lawn.

“This will be such an experience for you!” we told the boys, reflecting on all of the shows we had seen in our lifetimes in the lawn section.

On our way to the show, my husband said, “You’re going to see all kinds of different people today. Be curious, not judgmental.” (A line from our favorite TV show, Ted Lasso.)

We arrived early to the sold-out show so that we could find a decent spot on the lawn, which is first-come first-serve. We spread out our blanket, marked our territory with a couple of chairs, and settled into an overpriced dinner. As more and more people poured into the venue, the air grew hazy with smoke from cigars, cigarettes, and other skunky sources. My youngest son covered his face with his shirt. My middle son looked miserable and complained about a headache.

“This is just what happens at concerts,” I said, trying to encourage them to embrace the experience.

Out of nowhere, beer came raining down from the sky, soaking my pants and blanket. I looked up.

“Oh, man!” an older guy cackled. “Alcohol abuse! Alcohol abuse!”

He stumbled about before crashing down next to us on the lawn with the rest of his group.

“You just spilled beer all over me,” I said, pointing at my jeans, and smiling because it’s going to be just fine, we’re having fun right now, see?

“I did?! Man, it’s all over me too,” he replied. “Sorry about that.”

It occurred to me right then how distant certain elements of people’s everyday lives are to my children. They’ve never been in a situation where they’ve witnessed heavy, disoriented drinking. They aren’t around people who smoke all of the time. This scene, familiar and relatively easy for us adults to tolerate, was jarring and uncomfortable for my boys.

And after having a tall boy of Miller Lite dumped on me, I wasn’t loving the party scene that much either. 

In the middle of that hazy lawn, we watched dozens of people stumble about, drunk and out of control. We watched hundreds of people with complex lives try to numb out their anxiety and relax using their substance of choice. 

The easy thing to do is to judge their behavior. The harder thing to do is to be curious about what’s under the surface, what trauma, what pain, what brokenness, what hurt the entire world is trying to heal with their ineffective balms that only dull the ache and delay its healing.

This is the boat we are all in, collectively, all sinners in the hands of a loving God who did not lose his temper with the whole lot of us, but embraced us, each of us, each stumbling down drunk, pot smoking, partying, self-righteous, arrogant, proud, flawed and hurting bearer of God’s image. 

In that place, in our sin-dead lives, God made us alive in Christ.

This is the amazing work of grace. “Saving is all his idea, and all his work…” Paul writes to the Ephesians. “We neither make nor save ourselves.”

These are the places God’s saving grace enters, bars and concert venues, food pantries and health clinics. 

In the midst of a party crowd, may I remember my need for grace, stay curious, and be amazed.

Points of Reflection

  1. Do you find it easy or difficult to choose mercy over judgment?
  2. What has God rescued you from?

For the Kids

  1. Do you need to earn God’s love?
  2. What’s so amazing about grace?


Over and over in the gospels, Jesus doesn’t avoid the “sinners and tax collectors;” instead, he eats and drinks with them, invites them over for dinner, and attends their own house parties. Jesus goes out of his way to intersect God’s love with people who feel and are rejected by proper society. Jesus prioritizes relationships over rules, love over everything else. What “sinners and tax collectors” are you barring from entering God’s presence because they’re doing it wrong? What can you do this week to shift your gaze from the undirected actions of those who are just trying to do life the only way they know how to the God who came to save each and everyone?


When I was in college, I exchanged letters for a season with a man who was incarcerated. I don’t remember what he did that got him there. Our letters focused on faith and hope and the promise of a Savior. I was a baby Christian myself, intent on exploring and evangelizing others to the life of rescue I’d experienced, and he was a pastor’s kid. I think he suggested that I read The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out by Brennan Manning. Manning digs into grace and what it takes to access it—simple honesty—so that we can experience God’s “furious love.”

Share on Social

Back To Top