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A Passing Grade

My years in college provided some valuable learning experiences.  Most of them came outside of the classroom.  Once such experience came from my statistics professor, Mary Hudson.  Mary was a gentle lady who simply loved her work and loved students.  It showed in her everyday life.  I am sure, however, that the semester I showed up in her class pushed her to limits to which she never thought she was capable.  It’s not that I was a bad student, it’s just that my brain was not wired for statistics.  I gave every effort to learn the material, it just didn’t happen.  Our grade for the semester was to be based on daily homework assignments as one portion, but the majority would come from four exams and a final.  I did not do well on the exams.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t pass any of the four.  My highest grade was a 58 and lowest was a 12.  Yes, that’s correct, a 12!  And yes, that was based on a 100 point scale.  So, after that you could understand that I had no hope of passing the class, so I stopped going with 3 weeks left in the semester. 

Mrs. Hudson sent word to me through a friend that she wanted to see me.  So off I went across campus to her office.  I knocked on the door and she invited me in.  I still remember her words she spoke that day.  She knew I was preparing for ministry and that her class had been a struggle for me all semester.  I apologized for not doing well.  She went on to say that if I would study for the final and come in and make at least a 70 she would give me a passing grade.  “Oh, and by the way, it’s a multiple choice exam, so it can’t be too difficult,” she said.  I left there encouraged.  I studied and prepared to the best of my ability.  On final exam day I went to the class and picked up my exam.  I took my seat and began working.  Multiple choice, I thought, how hard can this be?  However, every problem I worked gave me a different answer than the four choices I could choose from.  So, as you can imagine, every question was a guess for me.  I turned in my exam and left with a great sense of doubt.  No way was I going to pass now. 

The next day Mrs. Hudson posted our final grades on her door.  I stopped by and found my name on the list.  I ran my finger across the page from my name to my final exam score and my final grade for the class.  The final exam score read “70,” which made my final grade just enough to pass the class.  You know what I thought?  GRACE!  I can just about guarantee that I didn’t make a 70 on that final.  But Mary gave me grace and passed me. 

That’s exactly what grace is.  It is unmerited favor.  It is a gift, given in spite of what we deserve.  And that’s just what God has done for us.  Because of our sin we don’t deserve His best for us.  We don’t deserve to be part of His family.  We don’t deserve His love and acceptance.  We don’t deserve a passing grade, but because of His grace we are heirs to all He owns.  We belong to Him because of what Jesus Christ did on our behalf.  To be honest, like statistics, my mind cannot comprehend that.  I don’t understand how my Creator God can love me like that, in spite of all I have done against Him.  But He does.  So I accept His gift by faith.  And I thank Him every day for His unmerited favor given to me.  How about you?  Have you thought to give Him thanks today for giving to you what you do not deserve?  And what should we do as a result of His grace?  I don’t know about you, but it encourages me to want to be like Mary Hudson and give grace to those whom God leads across my path today. Is there someone in your path that needs grace from you today?  Go ahead, give freely.  Because that’s how it’s given to us.

“….But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 5:20-21

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About the Author

Bruce has served in full-time ministry for over 25 years and has served as chaplain at the YMCA at Pabst Farms since August, 2006. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, he served as Associate Pastor of Missions and Evangelism at Alpha Baptist Church in Morristown, Tennessee as well as Minister of Activities and Recreation. .. Read More »

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February 2, 2015 @ 11:46 am
Jennifer Butters

Beautiful example of His great love &; grace! Thanks for sharing your heart, Bruce. What a blessing to have met you in person last month too. May God continue to shower His blessings of love &; grace upon you.

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