I looked out my kitchen window to see my fourteen year old son on the mower, with his Dad pushing from behind with all of his might. At the time we’d had a lot of rain here in Texas. The sudden influx of moisture had made everything lush and green and oh, so beautiful. But it had also made it difficult to mow our jungle-like yard.
I cannot tell a lie, friends. When I saw the scene unfolding, (why didn’t I get a video?) I laughed. My ten year old daughter, Macy, was in the house with me and noticed my giggling, so she too joined me for the show.
It took a lot of rocking and pushing and, if I’m being honest, a little heated instruction from father to son. At one point, arms were flailing and we could make an educated guess as to what was probably being said in the heat of the moment. But they finally got the mower free from it’s predicament, went on about the yard work, and were friends in the end.
I turned my attention to the dinner I was making and Macy went into the living room to watch something on the TV. Our house has a very open layout so I could hear and see what Macy was watching. It seemed like a harmless show, but knowing my daughter, it wouldn’t fare well during bedtime. So I asked her to change it to something else. She was not happy about my request in any sense of the word. A few minutes ago we had been all smiles, enjoying each other’s company. With this one request though, I found our evening together veering off course…
Macy calmly argued for a few minutes, but when she saw that she was waging a losing battle, she lost it. The next thing I knew, the remote control was being thrown across the living room.
You see, “Old Rebeka” would have then lost it too. And I would have been totally justified in my actions, right? Hello… a disobedient child throwing a tantrum deserves to be eviscerated! Okay, maybe eviscerated is a strong word. But full disclosure, the rage monster in me would have eaten that for dinner instead of the chicken I was cooking in the cast iron skillet. But that was the old me…the dead me.
Because now I am a New Creation. I left my orphaned spirit at the altar and picked up my new identity as the adopted daughter of the Creator of the Universe. (AKA: My Heavenly Papa). I now share the DNA of Christ. So instead of losing it, I took a deep breath and said…“Macy, please pick up the remote and put it back together.” Yep, that was it. My head didn’t spin around four times and smoke did not come out of my ears. It was really freaking awesome.
When I said yes to accepting the grace that my Heavenly Father offered me, I said yes to becoming more like Christ. And in doing so, that means that I must offer others that same grace, compassion, and mercy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken me a long time to get here. And I don’t always get it right. But in offering grace, instead of an immediate freakout session, it gave me the time to realize where my daughter’s frustration was stemming from.
When we offer grace, we are opening the door of opportunity to truly see from a different perspective. And when I opened that door, I saw my incredibly brilliant daughter. But I also saw someone who struggles on a daily basis with some learning differences and dyslexia. I now realize that things that came really easy for me as a student, she has to work extremely hard for. And guess what else? The remote-throwing incident happened to take place during STAAR readiness week. STAAR is our state’s standardized testing, which can be a very stressful time for students and teachers. Especially kids like Macy, who experience test anxiety.
So now maybe you can see why I didn’t throw the book at her per say because what good would that have done? She’s not a bad kid. She really wasn’t angry with me. She was worried. She was scared. She was stressed. Had I not taken the time to truly see through this open door, I would have missed this opportunity to show my daughter that I see her, that I am here for her, and I have grace for her.
Please hear me when I say that I am human, and I don’t always get it right. But at that moment I did. And I am so proud of that. I have come such a long way in the area of offering others grace. Because I need it just as much as the next person.
Have you ever read a Bible story that you thought you already knew and understood, to find that you totally missed a huge piece of it’s meaning? The week before the remote incident I decided to teach the story of Jonah and the whale as my Children’s Sunday School lesson at church. At first, I didn’t really pay close attention to the story because I thought it was like an overplayed song on the radio. A Bible story that most Christians are super familiar with, especially children. It’s the go-to “obey God” scenario. Or so I thought…
It turns out that I was about to learn something so much deeper than that surface level lesson. The Lord was about to take me deeper into a space of truly knowing His character so that He could refine my own. It’s funny how He works in that way. Every time I think I know what to expect from God, He often takes things to the next level. And by the time I even notice, I am in the deepest of the deep end, in complete awe of who my Creator is and how he works.
If you’re familiar with Jonah and the big fish (or whale), then you know Jonah disobeys God’s ask of him to go to Nineveh to preach God’s Word to a wicked and lost people. Jonah declines and decides to head in a different direction. He ends up on a boat where things go sideways pretty quickly. Long story short, everyone on the boat renounces their pagan gods and repents. Must have been quite the storm, huh? And then Jonah ends up being thrown overboard, where God provides him refuge in the belly of a big fish. Sounds weird, I know. But wait there’s more…
To really grasp this story, you definitely need to head to the Bible and read the book of Jonah for yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and teach you, then get ready to have your mind totally blown. There are so many moving parts to this seemingly-simple Bible story when you first hear it. But it’s so much more!
The new storyline I gathered from this study of the book of Jonah, wasn’t just “don’t be disobedient.” But was this…GRACE. Our God, the Creator of All, is the God of grace, compassion, and mercy. And it’s truly overwhelming for me to even think about.
In the story, Jonah ends up going to Nineveh after he is regurgitated by the big fish on the beach. But he is still really unhappy about having to go preach God’s Word to the wicked and evil people there. He doesn’t understand why God would offer these people such grace. And he knows God well enough to know that’s exactly what He plans to do. Jonah doesn’t really go out of his way to give much explanation- his sermon is made up of only five words. In Hebrew those five words translate to…”Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
But that’s all it took! The king and people of Nineveh repented and humbled themselves. Their cows and other livestock too. Yes, you read that correctly, the cows repented! It’s okay if you giggled there, I did too. Because it seems a little silly. How does this happen? How does a five word, begrudgingly-spoken sermon totally wreck a wicked and evil population of people, causing them to turn away from their corrupt ways and repent? One word…GOD.
He’s the God of grace. When you think you’ve surpassed your limits and say to yourself, “There’s no way God could forgive me this time.” Think again. He is the same God that put His only Son, who lived pure and blameless on this earth, to torture and death for you and for me…even when we were still sinners.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 (NIV)
I want those that I know and love to know the grace, compassion, and love that is being offered to them. I want them to know the absolute freedom that is within that grace.
Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve God’s Grace. Trust me, I’ve been there. I thought I was too dirty. Not worthy. Didn’t deserve anything good. I thought the mistakes I had made were just too disgusting for anyone, especially God, to forgive. But then one day, Jesus met me right where I was and said, “Just leave it here with me. I’ll take it. Every bit of it, Rebeka.” And so I did. Because of God’s mercy and grace, I was saved. I was set free. And now when I bring up the old, He says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And I sit there in awe while in a puddle of tears.
“But how, God? How could you have already forgotten all of it?” And then I remember the blood of Jesus has washed it all away.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (ESV)
If you feel like you’re too far gone, I want you to know that is a lie. It’s the biggest lie. You are never too far gone. He’s a God that will leave the ninety-nine and go out and look for the one. (Matthew 18:12-14) He’s the God that will use a five word sermon to bring an entire city and their livestock to repentance. (Jonah 3:10) He’s the God that waits for his prodigal sons and daughters to come home so he can clothe them in his finest robe and throw a party in their honor. (Luke 15:11-32) He’s the God who dresses the lilies with such splendor, and cares for us beyond our comprehension. (Matthew 6:28-34) When I think about all of this, it makes it easy to offer those around me grace upon grace upon grace.
That evening I finished cooking dinner and the boys came in from working their outside chores. The four of us sat down to have dinner together. One of the kids critiqued my onion slices and the other said they didn’t even like my chicken. And just like that, I glanced over at my husband and said, “It’s your turn. I am tapping out.”
Isn’t that just real life? And I love that God meets us there in the mess of it all. That he teaches us and he never says “Okay, this is the last time before I give up on you.” His mercies are too many to even count. I look back on my life and see God in every nook and cranny. I see Him in the details of situations that never should have worked out. But that’s a whole other story for another time. So, in trusting that the Lord our God has already worked all of this out, I will leave you with five simple words….
His grace is enough, Friend.
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