This morning, I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants and a phrase from section 20 jumped out at me like a blinking neon sign. It’s only 3 simple words but I haven’t been able to get them out of my head. The verse goes like this: “But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God” (D&C 20:32).
Isn’t the phrase “fall from grace” intriguing? A million questions immediately sprang up in my mind the minute I read it. I turned to the footnotes to dig a little deeper, and one of them took me to Galatians where Paul essentially says the same thing. Speaking to those who’ve been trying to find salvation by keeping the law of Moses, he says: “Christ is become no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).
So again, we’re told that it’s possible for us to “fall from grace.” But the question is, if grace is something we can “fall from,” what does it mean to live IN grace? The visual image seems to be one of us remaining lifted up or suspended in a state of grace. So all morning I’ve been asking myself: Am I really living in this lifted-up state of grace? How would I know it? And what would my life look like if I am?
I’ve been studying President Uchtdorf’s talk “The Gift of Grace” quite a bit, so my mind went first to his definition of grace. He describes it as “the divine assistance and endowment of strength by which we grow from the flawed and limited beings we are now into exalted beings of “truth and light, until [we are] glorified in truth and [know] all things” (D&C 93:28).”
So if I’m living in this lifted-up state of grace, doesn’t that mean I should be experiencing the Lord’s “assistance” and “strength” on a daily basis? That I should be thinking and knowing and doing things that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish on my own? If I’m really living in grace, shouldn’t my life be filled with His power to help me overcome temptation and rise above the stresses and strains of the world?
This started me thinking about how I handle the different struggles and problems I face in my everyday life. How often do I truly reach for and seek the Lord’s “divine assistance”? Am I more prone to turn to Him for answers, or do I mainly rely on my own strength and energy? Often it can be so easy to just handle things on my own and leave Him out of it completely. And then I wondered: is that all it takes to “fall from grace”—to rely on my own way of dealing with things rather than asking for (and receiving) the Lord’s help with it all?
I also noticed that, in President Uchtdorf’s definition of grace, he calls it an “endowment of strength.” It reminds me of the temple endowment I received so many years ago. The D&C says that, through this ordinance, I’ve been “endowed with power from on high” (D&C 38:32). So again—if I’m living in this lifted-up state of grace, shouldn’t I feel that endowment of power or strength helping me with my marriage? My parenting? My calling? My To-Do list? And maybe most importantly, with all those nagging sins that continue to plague me from day to day? Shouldn’t I notice that gift of power (or grace) being infused into my soul in a way that truly enables me to overcome? And if I’m not experiencing His help in a way that is truly noticeable and perceptible, could that be what it looks like to “fall from grace”? Is it as simple as being left to deal with all of life’s stresses on my own?
It reminds me of a verse in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites aren’t remembering the Lord, so they’re “left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper” (Hel. 4:13). Could that sometimes be why things in my life are so hard? Because I’ve fallen from grace and I’ve been left to my own strength? The verse just said I’ll never prosper that way. But thankfully, it also says in the next couple of verses that all that can change as soon as I repent. So perhaps what I need this morning is to repent of any moments when I too have forgotten the Lord and have been left to handle things on my own in a way that will never allow me to prosper.
It can be so easy to live life on automatic pilot and completely forget that we have access to the Lord’s grace. But the truth is, as His people, we’re expected to live in grace—in this lifted-up state of power where we’re constantly receiving His “divine assistance.” In other words, we really should be experiencing miracles on an everyday basis. And if that’s not our reality, maybe the problem is that we’ve fallen from grace and forgotten the great gift of power available through the Lord’s Atonement.
All this talk has left me wanting to reach for Him today with every single breath I take. If His power is there for the asking, I don’t want to miss a moment of what He has in store for me. I don’t just want to avoid falling from grace—I want to make sure I’m really, truly living IN IT . . . every single day for the rest of my life.