Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘grace’

On a Journey

In the past few hours, I’ve taken a big step into another world—or rather, to the other side of this earth.  Upon entering the first airport, I got this same old feeling of rootlessness.  My feet were no longer planted in the environment where I’d spent the past four months, nor were they set in the world to which I was going.  I was on the journey, and life went on pause.  Nothing seemed real except for the meals, movies, and vain attempts to sleep.   

Lines from a couple of songs express my feeling and remind me of this present journey to my real and eternal Home:

“There is a joy in the journey…”  (by Michael Card)

“And let this journey be my home…”  (from “I Will Go,” by Steve Green and Douglas McKelvey)

On my journey, I am not in control.  I stand in line as instructed, pass through inspections, sit in my assigned seat, endure delays).  On my way to heaven, I am trying to learn gracious submission and flexibility to whatever situations God allows, knowing that it means growth in character and usefulness to Him.

On my journey, there are fellow travelers.  Others are traveling with me to heaven—my brothers and sisters. I need to learn to love and serve them, enjoying the trip together.

My journey has a limit and a destination; it will not last forever.  Whatever frustrations and difficulties I experience in this temporary life will be forgotten as soon as I step into that joyful new world. 

God, give me grace to be sweet, patient, flexible, and useful to You, to make the most of this journey, however long it may be—for Your glory, for the benefit of my fellow travelers, and even for my own sweeter pleasure when I reach my Real Home.

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

A Picture of Grace

“Babette’s Feast” is a movie I have recently enjoyed immensely.  It’s a parable of grace.  In fact, it’s featured in Philip Yancey’s book, “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”

Babette, a French refugee, lands on the doorstep of a pair of elderly spinster sisters, looking for a job as a maid.  Though they cannot pay her, she insists on serving them humbly and faithfully, gradually and quietly transforming their ho-hum diet and freeing up the sisters to carry on their works of charity in the community.

After many years, when at last Babette acquires a sum of money, she spends it all on a delightful and lavish French dinner for the sisters and their friends, a product of her culinary art and of love.  And only then do we learn that she had been a famous chef back in France—living incognito in Denmark for many long years!

Only one of the dinner guests truly appreciates the exquisite meal—a military general who had traveled widely.  The others were determined to partake politely, only realizing toward the end that they were actually enjoying it. 

The “lessons” of this story are too many to mention in this entry.  Is it a parable?  Who is Babette meant to be a picture of?  Do I appear in this story?  If so, where?

From the Poor to the Posh

From the poor to the posh, we have experienced it all in the past few days.  And grace in it all! 

First we visited a very poor community where we had lived for a number of years. Old friends and partners in ministry met us with smiles, open arms, and generous hospitality.  Out of their poverty they gave their best, with their love.  We were profoundly touched by their stories of God’s faithfulness—and theirs—through the years.  And with churches overflowing with enthusiastic worshippers.  What a thrill it was to hear them singing their hearts out to God in their own language!

Then after a ride to the city, we were thrust immediately into another kind of gracious hospitality—that of the well-to-do.  These people, though we had never met them before, gave us a royal welcome because of a family connection between one of their relatives and one of ours.  The word “grace” came to mind repeatedly during those three days as we enjoyed their beautiful home and were taken to restaurants and tourist sites with all expenses paid.  The mention of their name was the magic key—a reminder of God’s lavish grace available to us through the name of Jesus. 

Grace and Mercy—what’s the difference?

An important task of a Bible translator is to accurately translate similar terms.  And when the receptor language lacks its own terminology for important theological concepts, it’s all the more important for the translator to understand what those Greek or Hebrew terms mean in order to render the ideas precisely. 

“Grace” and “mercy” are two of these which are so similar that, in some languages, it’s hard to find ways to distinguish them.  We’ve all heard the helpful definitions of “getting what (good) you don’t deserve” and “not getting what (bad) you do deserve.  Here’s another thought or two:

Maybe there’s an aspect of “grace” that focuses more on the giver—his kindness, compassion, riches and generosity. 

And maybe there’s an aspect of “mercy” that focuses more on the recipient—his need, his guilt, his helplessness.

In Christ, we have both! 

How Jesus Relates to Me

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  (2 Corinthians 13:14—verse 13 in some translations.)

Grace. When the management of a hotel gave us a great deal on a room to make up for a mistake they’d made, we reveled in the unexpected luxury.  As we checked out, we expressed how much we’d appreciated it.

The clerk’s response: “You deserved it.” No, we didn’t deserve it!

I shudder when I see an ad that says “Eat / Buy  / Do (you fill in the blank)!  You deserve it!” What makes us think we “deserve” everything we think we ought to have?  What we need to remember is that good things that the Lord Jesus gives us are undeserved, given just because he is good and delights to shower us with favor.

…of the Lord Jesus Christ.  While many verses associate grace with “God,” or “God and Jesus,” the New Testament indicates that Jesus is the one through whom it comes to us (see John 1:17).  Eight of Paul’s letters close with a benediction of “grace from the Lord Jesus,” and the final words of the whole Bible are “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.” (NLT)

So what are the implications to me of living in grace?
I will be humble.
I will be thankful.
I will share.  Freely I have received, freely I must give.

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