By Grace, through Faith

Fred Wilgenburg

READ : Romans 3:21-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift. (vv. 23-24)

Heather died at age 41. We mostly knew her daughter, Haley, who came to our Kids Hangout, and Andre, Heather’s boyfriend, who came frequently to Center of Hope, an urban outreach ministry to Native Americans where I serve as pastor in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Heather struggled as a mother. Her two sons were in prison. Haley, now 17, was with her mom at the end of her terminal disease, before returning to the juvenile detention center.

Before her death, she received Jesus as her Savior. For years, she had a vague belief in Tunkashila—the Great Spirit, her Creator in Lakota tradition. But Jesus, “God with us,” made Tunkashila personal to Heather. Upon her death, we conducted a small service at the funeral home.

About the same time, the wife of a pastor in our community died of cancer. She was a beautiful person of God, all of her life. The visitation and funeral were attended by hundreds.

As Christians, be believe both these women are in the same place—heaven. Some might think, “Their lives were so different, yet they’re in the same place?” God says there is no distinction: all have sinned, all fall short, and all who believe are justified by his grace through Christ. Amazing grace!


Thank you, God, for receiving us just as we are. Amen.