Almost exactly two years ago, I came to Union Gospel Mission at a time when I was learning what felt like extremely hard (but extravagantly important) lessons. Lessons about God and about myself.
The longer I’ve been at UGM, I couldn’t ignore God’s hand in the situation. I have truly felt God brought me here.
You’ve maybe heard that UGM is a “grace-based” program. In a nutshell, that means individuals are given unconditional love and forgiveness while simultaneously being held accountable.
I struggle wrapping my mind around this concept but find it, nonetheless, incredible.
Shortly before coming to UGM, I remember reading John 1. The words “the one and only Son…full of grace and truth…” stood out from the page as I read them.
How had I never noticed them before?! Or maybe I just hadn’t ever understood the weight they hold.
Either way, in that particular moment, the phrase amazed me.
Trying to make my way out of a dark cloud of shame and lies, at the time, these words seemed directly opposed to how I felt. I started thinking through what they meant and felt in even greater awe of Jesus. I saw more fully His divinity and perfection contrasting with my humanness and was increasingly drawn to Him.
But I continued struggling with the juxtaposition of grace and truth. After all, isn’t what’s true always true? What role can grace play?
Fast-forward a few months and I began working at UGM – an organization I didn’t know very much about, not being from Spokane. And from the beginning, I was constantly reminded by staff, residents, and volunteers about grace and about truth because I saw it at work in their lives.
The importance of both continued hitting me.
As Christians, and as people who are really all in recovery in some way, I believe grace and truth are of utmost significance. Each one needs the other. Jesus embodied both fully.
Truth serves as a reminder that I am not God, that I’m unable to do life on my own, that I am sinful and no matter how hard I try, will never be worthy in and of myself before a holy God.
Truth reminds me that I need a Savior. And grace enters in through Jesus.
God gives us grace – unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor through Christ. And He doesn’t overlook our sin, but in kindness, looks at Christ’s sacrifice instead.
Truth holds us responsible as well as drives out lies. Grace weeds out shame and bestows worth.
Over the past couple years, I’ve had the privilege to talk with men and women in recovery, staff, and volunteers who have taught me so much about grace and about accountability.
They have encouraged me in my own struggles and shortcomings. They have inspired me to face and come to terms with my own pain and provided a safe, grace-based environment to do so. They have taught me so much about who Jesus really is – “full of grace and truth.”
This Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for, but top of the list is Union Gospel Mission. And even though I’m moving a thousand miles away, the education on homelessness and addiction, outstanding individuals, lasting relationships, and life lessons I’ve experienced will stay with me forever – I will never forget my time here at UGM.
Grace-based recovery is the means by which lives are changed at UGM.