“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
His physical ailments are as legendary as they are traumatic.
Innumerable back operations (titanium rods link his spine from L1 to T10), hospital stays, rehabilitations, and too many trips to the doctors to count.
Most people donate their bodies to science once they are dead. Pastor Steve does it while still alive, allowing a whole staff of doctors and nurses to hone their craft on him.
His ordeal has strengthened my prayer life. They often start with, “Lord, thank you for not doing this to me!”
Which leads us to Pastor Steve’s new book, “Overwhelmed by God and Not Your Troubles,” a must-read for those who want to learn of God’s mighty love.
Pastor Steve writes in his introduction to the book “Overwhelmed”:
When we begin to let God overwhelm us with His love, grace, power, Spirit, provision, we will see Him work in and through our lives in a tremendous way.
I firmly believe that God’s will is for us to become overwhelmed with His goodness and His grace instead of being overwhelmed with our problems and trials.
When we switch our focus and perspective, a change occurs—a change so dramatic and so real that the pesky problems we were previously overwhelmed with pale in comparison to the peace, contentment and joy that we find in Christ.
An Authority on Trials and Tribulations
If anyone has the experience and authority to write about trials, tribulations and God’s abundant grace and mercy, it is Pastor Steve.
Just as God had to strike Jacob in the hip to end an all-night wrestling match, so God had to strike down an angry young man named Steve Mays to make him stop running away.
God had plans to turn him into a great fisher of men, although it may not have seemed like it at the time as he lay in the gutter with a bullet hole in his leg, capping a life of anguish, hostility and drugs.
The tumultuous life of Job comes to mind. I have often theorized Pastor Steve was anointed to suffer, and his suffering brings with it an intimate knowledge of — you guessed it — God’s grace.
But this is no woe-is-me tale of Pastor Steve.
The more he draws to the throne of grace, the more God reveals Himself to him, the deeper his knowledge of the Father becomes, and the more it blossoms in his teachings, humility and growth as a man of God.
Not all of us will earn a PhD in Pain Management like Pastor Steve, but everyone will come to some intimate knowledge of God’s grace in their life.
What Does God’s Grace Do For Us?
It puts us back together after we’ve been broken on the rocks of pride and humility, or crushed under the onslaught of one tribulation after another.
It keeps us afloat after we begin to sink in a sea of sin, or set adrift on the oceans of unrelenting pain.
The overwhelming outcome of this love? His grace is sufficient for me.
Not only sufficient but exceedingly rich in that God gave the world his Son to redeem us:
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
Pastor Steve is a walking testament for every scripture about God’s grace. Examples abound:
God’s grace allowed him to hear of God’s redemptive love, offered through his Son Jesus:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” (Titus 2:11)
God’s grace paved the way for Pastor Steve to exchange a lost life for one of purpose:
“You have been saved by grace.” (Ephesians 2:8)
God’s grace has strengthened Pastor Steve mentally, spiritually and physically.
“Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)
God’s grace has unchained Pastor Steve from his past:
“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
God’s grace has carried Pastor Steve through one physical ailment after another.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Timothy 12:9)
God’s grace has molded Pastor Steve into a humble shepherd:
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
God’s grace has given him a life justified, sustained and eternally loved through Jesus.
“And all are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:24)
Over, under and throughout, we are surrounded – and surrendered – to God’s grace.
We are covered by the blood of Jesus so that God’s grace will forever be poured into us.
God’s abundant grace for man is manifested in John 3:16, a scripture that is the purest, sweetest and most powerful definition of God’s grace you will ever find:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Could grace, His gift to us, come at any greater price for the Father?
Can you find a grace that is deeper in its love, or more compassionate, or more humble, or more loving than the grace God shows us daily?
God’s grace passes through each one of us. Pastor Steve is a witness to God’s overwhelming grace. I am a witness to His abundant grace. You are a witness to his unending grace. And so it goes.
God’s grace is the universal theme of love.
The Special Way That God Says, “I Love You”
The Greeks have a very beautiful word for it, Agape (Love). It is not uncommon to hear Greeks call their good friends and family Agape mou (My Love).
When God covers you with His grace — a very personal, intimate and unconditional grace paid for by the blood of His Son Jesus — He is saying to you, Agape mou!
And when you are overwhelmed by God’s grace for you, tell Him … Sagapo (I Love You)
Not a day goes by that God’s grace does not manifest itself to us in the sunshine we feel on our face, the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the new life we live and the love we have for one another through Christ Jesus.
Has anything touched man more keenly than God’s grace?
God’s grace is victory over the world.
This God who makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust, fills his children with the power of grace.
“And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)
His grace is sufficient for me.
His grace allowed Jesus to take our place on the cross.
His grace brings smiles to our faces, and He wipes away the tears with the same grace.
His grace redeems us, sanctifies us, justifies us and makes us righteous.
His grace makes our joy complete and is embodied within us through Jesus:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Nothing can make a man more humble and fall to his knees quicker than God’s amazing grace.
Don’t miss this important point. God is showing you exactly who He is through His grace. To say God is Love is an understatement.
In that quiet moment when I close my eyes and dwell on God’s good grace, I see Christ walk up to me and open his arms. While I am looking at his pierced hands, he says, “Ani, Agape mou!” … and I grab His garment as he walks past me and I don’t let go, not for a moment.
God’s love, God’s all-consuming, humbling grace for us is … well …
Overwhelming, Isn’t It?
For every measure of suffering, God has returned to Pastor Steve a measure of his grace; for every measure of pain, an equal measure of love and victory in Christ. For every fear, a calm and peace, for every need, a spiritual resolution.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
It is hard to sing hosannas when you are bent over in pain.
It is difficult to lift up praises when you hear something snap inside your body.
But Pastor Steve will be the first to tell you, “His grace is sufficient for me.”
Pastor Steve, thank you for bringing God’s word to us in a most remarkable way.
His prayer at the end of the chapter on God’s grace is a fitting way to close this column.
Lord, thank You for Your grace in my life. Thank You that You pick me up again and again. You never leave me alone nor withhold any good thing from me. You want me to follow hard after You; it is Your desire that my heart would mirror Yours. Thank You for never giving up on me, even when I am lost in sin. Even then, You orchestrate circumstances and trials that draw me near to You. Thank You that You alone can make my life a trophy of Your grace. You are willing to get Your hands dirty and reach down to hurting and lost people. Work in my brokenness, I pray, helping me to see and experience Your hands all over my life. Thank You for Your grace that never lets me go. Amen.
Never underestimate the overwhelming power of God’s grace. And never underestimate His overwhelming love for you.
Pastor Steve’s New Book Available in Different Formats
Pastor Steve’s new book, Overwhelmed by God and Not Your Troubles, is now available in paperback, audio, and e-book formats.