GRACE! GRACE! GRACE! Why oh why are you so hard to give and yet I long for it multiple times a day? More times than not I find myself challenged by my own challenges. Hmmm? Feel like you need to reread the last line? Let’s see if I can try this one more time. It is one thing to talk about something on a blog, or discuss a challenging question at our weekly mom’s group or prepare a lesson for our Children’s Sunday school and then it is another to actually have to practice what you preach on a daily basis.
It is inevitable that once I complete a children’s Sunday school lesson, I will be given the “opportunity” to put my words into action. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed and sometimes I can even set my watch by it. So why then am I caught off guard every time? A perfect example was after last Sunday’s lesson on grace. I have found amazing reward from learning the Bible through the children’s eyes. Children’s ministry really is where the spirit moves and it’s so much fun to watch little ones get excited about their faith. Can you imagine if we could feel as free to jump with joy during worship like they do? (insert deep sigh)
OK, so where was I? Oh yes, grace! We discussed the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and how the father could have easily turned his son away but instead showed him grace and welcomed him back with open arms. To help illustrate this to the kids, we gathered around a locked door and a key ring filled with keys. Each key represented a different reason as to why the father accepted his son and loved him so unconditionally. The keys were marked with attributes, such as strength, good looks, sense of humor, and money. After we discussed each key, we tried it in the door, which of course couldn’t be unlocked. It wasn’t until the final key was revealed that we were able to unlock the door. The last key was grace. It was important to teach the children that it wasn’t because he was good looking that his dad wanted him back. It wasn’t for his strength that he was anxious to have him back working on the farm. It wasn’t for his silly jokes that they had missed him all that time and he surely couldn’t buy his way back into the family. Instead, it was a gift that was not deserved but given freely because of the father’s unconditional love for him. This is true with our heavenly father as well. Grace is not something we've earned but rather God gives it to us freely because of his unconditional love for each of us.
We came up with a fun way to help us remember grace:
G = Grace is GIFT
R = REMINDS us of Jesus and God’s love for us
A = His grace is ABUNDANT
C = CANCELS out our sin
E = grace is EXCITING
Well wouldn’t you know, approximately 26 hours later I was given just the opportunity to put my words into practice. My daughter was given a glass of grape juice (strike 1, on me), which I set on the end table next to where she was sitting (strike 2, on me), and of course it was only a matter of time until that glass (a full glass I might add) would meet its demise on my tan carpet. Now, if I had had the chance for just a split second to hit the pause button on life, I could’ve remembered a few key elements:
1. YOU gave her the full glass.
2. YOU set it on the lower table when it should’ve probably been left on the dining room table.
Now this is where I am really embarrassed to admit the third strike, gulp…
3. Weren’t YOU the one who only hours earlier had scheduled the annual professional carpet cleaning, which would happen 3 days later?
Yep, I knew in advance that this was really not a big deal and yet that didn’t seem to stop the explosion of my words, my temper, and my blood pressure. I had a get out of jail free card and could’ve really thrown Parker for a loop with a simple, “Oops, that’s ok. It was just an accident. Let’s clean it up together.” She didn’t know that the carpet cleaners were coming, but what really stinks, is that I knew. Hmph!
It made me think that this must be what God experiences. He knows when we’ve messed up and He knows that there will be more messes around the corner but He also knows our heart and He knows that this will be “professionally cleaned up” in a matter of time. He gently squeezes us and says, “So what do you say we go clean up this mess so we can go have some real fun?”
Not to worry, something tells me tomorrow will bring even more opportunities to put my words into action and share grace. I also know that there will be even more moments that I will be asking for it for myself! If there is anything that is guaranteed with having children, it is the multitude of favorable circumstances that require an abundance of grace. Hmm, you think maybe that’s the way God feels about us?