The grace of God is pretty amazing and although words can try to describe what it is all about, it is still hard to get the full capacity of it’s meaning.
I many times in my Christ-following journey I have ‘fallen’, turned away or neglected to put my trust in Him, not to mention that I probably sin every day. But truly, I stand in awe at the reality that God only sees me through the blood of Jesus, not my sin. Whoo,… Click To Tweet
We don’t have to think that grace is just a New Testament thing either…look what is written in Jeremiah 31:2-3…
“Thus says the LORD: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest,the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
Miss Leah, a friend from a retreat I spoke at last fall, reminded me of a lovely little book from Bruce Wilkinson, “Secrets of the Vine”. I have a copy but hadn’t looked at it for a very long time. So while on the treadmill it has become the riveting read that is making my 30 minute workout zippity-do-dah along.
I was taken aback at the insight from the Vine-dresser (he who tends the vineyard,) who doesn’t discard the unproductive vine that has not produced. Bruce Wilkinson, at one point asks the dresser if he just cuts off those muddied vines and throws them away. In the vine-dressers words he says “oh no, they are much too valuable to do that.”
No, those vines aren’t just discarded. Instead, the vine-dresser carefully lifts them up (for they have fallen down, gotten covered in mud and started to mildew), and rinses them off in the bucket of water (carried along just for this purpose.) In the lifting up, the dresser gently ties the rinsed off vines, twining them into the trellis. Before long they are once again beginning to be productive.
Hey there friend, I don’t know about you but I have been a wayward girl, and I know wayward people. People who once loved God but then sin began its deteriorating process and they too fell, got muddy and began to mildew. I/they are given up for ‘lost’ or ‘back-slidden’. Thankfully there is that Christianese saying that says “God loves us too much to leave us the way we are” or something like that.
The Lord has given us the ability to make choices, which means the freedom to make mistakes, to slip and fall. However, like any good parent, He disciplines us. We either respond to His loving rebuke and turn from our sin and poor choices or we will keep reaping the consequences. Bruce Wilkinson says it this way: “The discipline doesn’t have to continue! It’s all up to me. I will only experience pain as long as I hang on to my sin.” Or I will only reap those consequences if I continue along my sinful way!
Wow, these words from Hebrews 4:14-16 are so awesome…
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are,yet without sin.Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.“
When I think of prodigals, I think that they might just believe that they are too far gone. Maybe caught in the trap of working for their salvation. That’s when it is easy to say, ‘well I blew it so there’s no hope for me.’ Isn’t that just one of the enemy’s great lies!
So how can I/we help those beloved prodigals believe that God loves them too much to give up on them?
That they can quit wallowing in their sin and come home even if they are really stinky from the miry cesspool they have been dwelling in?
How do they come to realize that Christ died for them even while they are steeped in their sin?
…grace, God’s grace…lived out by us…extended toward them, me, you, my son, your daughter…
Will you remind me when I begin to let that sly dog, judgement come creeping in, to tell him right where to go?
Will you remind me that I am a product of God’s never-ending love?
Will you remind me that my son may only see a glimpse of God’s grace because I have extended it to him without payment?
Yup…freely given and Lord I pray freely received…