"Antonio Velazquez was a grumpy, selfish, and evil old man. He worked for the police obtaining confessions from suspected criminals by questionable means." When I heard Mr. Velazquez's daughter describe my friend in such a way at his funeral, I was completely surprised. The Mr. Velazquez I knew was the exact opposite — a soft-spoken man who attended every church service and loved Jesus with a passion.
But for the Grace of God
Mr. Velazquez took a long time to accept God's grace. “I love Jesus, but I have been a bad man. God just can’t love me and forgive my past.” These were his words until one day, he finally got it. One day, the lights went on and Antonio finally understood God’s grace has no boundaries; his sins were not too ugly for God to forgive. From that day on, Antonio Velazquez was a changed man. Once he discovered God's grace, he was able to show grace. During his memorial service, his sister gave testimony that her brother was indeed a changed man through his faith in Christ.
Charles Spurgeon famously stated,
As a bird cannot exhaust the air in the sky nor a fish exhaust the
water in the sea, neither can we exhaust the grace of the God.
Antonio swam deeply in the sea of God’s grace for two years until the Lord called him home. During that time, he completely consumed two bibles, partly because his hands were always a bit dirty, but mostly because he read God’s Word over and over. It was as if he was trying to make up for the time he wasted living without God’s grace.
Like Paul, my friend understood God’s grace is sufficient precisely because it is inexhaustible. This is the lesson I learned from Antonio Velasquez. If God’s grace is enough for a grumpy, old, retired torturer, it is certainly enough for you and I. What a privilege it is to live our lives immersed in such infinite grace.
Mr. Velazquez’s story continues to inspire me 20 years after his passing. The power of God’s grace to completely change a man and deliver him from the guilt that weighed heavy on him is amazing. We are also recipients of God's grace, even if we never hurt a soul or live picture-perfect lives.
by Norival Trindade