Disturbing grace

The beginnings of a musing

It’s easy to admit most things these days. Politicians can admit that they smoked drugs at university (or even at a club last week, as long as they didn’t inhale). Teenagers surveyed by pollsters are happy to admit to underage drinking.

Still, there are still some things you don’t admit to. And one of them is liking James Blunt. So I will start with this terrible confession: I like James Blunt.

The reason I mention it at this juncture is that I was struck by some of the lyrics of “Same mistake” the other day, which go something like this:

I’m not calling for a second chance,
I’m screaming at the top of my voice.
Give me reason, but don’t give me choice,
’cause I’ll just make the same mistake again.

Now, far be it from me to second-guess what was going through Mr Blunt’s head in this theme (You’d be disturbed if I could)

However, this set me upon a train of thought… Incidentally, lots of things set me on a train of thought. It’s the price I pay for having the concentration span of a mayfly. Anyway…

Getting it wrong

Of course I make mistakes. This makes me imperfect, and nothing I can do can make me perfect again. And of course I can only rely on God’s grace to give me a second chance to try to get things right. But assuming I accept God’s forgiveness, he forgives me unconditionally, making me, once again, perfect in his eyes.

Now this is great, but if I think about it, it is a more daunting prospect than I care to imagine.

I might like to think I’ll be OK getting things right myself given that second chance. However the reality is that like Mr Blunt, given choice, I will make the same mistake again, which, assuming I genuinely wanted that second chance to get things right, seems terribly unfair and a little depressing. It would almost be easier not to have the choice.


Fortunately, when God gives me second, third, and seventy-seventh chances, he doesn’t say “Well, you screwed that one up well and truly, so let’s see you prove you can do it better”. On the contrary, he promises to be the means for me get it right.

So here are some quotes from various people whose words express the point I’m trying to make rather better than my own.


I will take out your heart of stone, and give you a new heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit in you and move you to obey my laws and do whatever I command.


You look so fine.
I want to break your heart,
And give you mine

Jars of Clay:

Crossing nameless from the one I’ve earned,
To be the one, the one you gave to me

© 2008 Paul Brownnutt

[Originally Published 14th October 2008]