Monday, October 11, 2010

Wonderful, Tender Grace

     As I look back I realize that grace remained an elusive term for quite a while. I knew when I came to Christ that my sins were forgiven, but grace still wasn't a part of me or my walk in a deep, intimate way. The word is so frequently tossed around in Christian circles, yet rarely is it defined.Yet, for some reason I was at a loss to completely receive the fullness of His amazing grace.
     So what else is an avid reader to do but, read. I am still reading up on it. Then I heard it. It wasn't until this past Easter when the sermon hit upon sin that I began to absorb the reality of grace into my heart. Our pastor put it so bluntly I about bolted out of my seat. Though, I was so riveted I couldn't move. A tear or two began to form around my eyes and inside my heart was weeping. My sins drove the nails into Christ. What? Ouch! It isn't until the understanding of sin sets in, that the fullness of God's grace can be received.
     I had been praying for the reality of the Cross to penetrate my being during the Easter season. It did, probably more than I wanted. The sheer magnitude and breadth of my sin, my guilt hit me and broke me in the process. There on the sidelines was God waiting for me. They say God always meets you where you are. He did. I imagine my heart hitting the floor and shattering into a billion fragments and God waiting with a broom to clean up my mess. I thank Him for that because some days my messes are too big for me to clean. There is God waiting for the right time, when I let Him in. He's always waiting, always there.
     The awesome thing about God's grace is that it doesn't just clean you up, it restores you. Imagine every one of your sins lined up on a store shelf, probably more like shelves. On each sin hangs a price tag.  You step up to see exactly the price. How much did each one cost you? What did it cost Him? DEATH in black marking pen.Your hand trembles as you inspect each tag. Did I do this? Certainly I deserve it...I suppose.  I didn't know a little lie to my teacher cost anything. Maybe my dignity at the time, but death? "For the wages of sin is death." Rom. 6:23 That verse starts ringing in your ears and resonating in your heart.
     Honestly, I didn't mean to. As you look up to the Cross, something miraculous happens. You look back down with puddles at the corner of your eyes, you see in what appears to be red ink stamped FREE on the tag. You race down the aisle looking at each one - FREE - FREE - FREE - FREE!
     I want you to take a closer look. Is that red ink or...blood? Yes, that is Christ's DNA on that tag. It hit me hard. The worst of it was my sins put him there. He took my punishment, your punishment, the punishment of anyone who hears God's call and who trusts in Him.
     What's even harder to grasp is that Jesus was willing to set aside his heavenly glory for this purpose. He loved us so much. He loves us so much. That's grace. There isn't a more perfect display of grace. I am given a second chance every time I ask for forgiveness, every time I sin. My slate is wiped clean. Do I deserve God's favor? Of course not. Nor do you, but God gives it out of his love for you. Every child is precious in his eyes and way too precious to lose.
     When I came to experience His grace and felt it pouring upon me, it was then I realized what a vile sinner I truly am and most of all how utterly and desperately in love I am in with my Savior Jesus Christ.

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