September 27, 2017

grace fills in the gap (and picks up the books)

after leaving the grocery store the other day, a homeless man approached me. groceries had been loaded in the car, indie in her car seat. i saw him slowly walk towards us and my first thought wasn't "how can i help him?"
far from it. my first few thoughts were more along the lines of: "ok, is this a threat to my daughter? how can i protect her if something sketchy happens?"
i had my mama-bear dukes up. so with that in mind, picture my demeanor. it wasn't calm or welcoming or happy. it was serious and defensive, fight or flight.

"excuse me, do you have 50 cents you could spare?" he asked with his head down.

i was caught off guard by how little he asked for... and how he carried himself as he asked. it was humble, almost embarrassed, maybe even shameful. i was so caught off guard that i couldn't even find the words to respond. reaching into the bottom of my purse, i grabbed a handful of change, then quickly looked it over hoping it was enough. 75 cents. i stuck out my hand and dropped it into his.
"oh wow, thank you!" he said, counting it quietly.
i didn't even say you're welcome. just silence.

as he walked away dressed in his weathered clothes, i sat in my car. my air conditioned, comfortable car with bags full of food, while he carried a few coins in his poor, dirty hand. guilt flooded my heart. tears filled my eyes. i was the one feeling embarrassed and shameful now.

i had not uttered a word of kindness [or anything for that matter]. i hadn't even made eye contact or smiled. i had offered him nothing in the way of human connection and love, only meaningless money - and not even much of that! where was that example of Jesus i should be displaying? where was the loving power of the Spirit that should be pouring onto everyone i meet? where was that cheerful, giving heart that i thought i had? because, in the comfort of my own home, i'm usually pretty cheerful when i give online to organizations of my choosing... so where was that now? now, when i'm caught off guard and inconvenienced - where was that giving heart?

as i questioned and pondered and confessed my shortcoming to the Lord, a familiar name floated to the forefront of my mind.....
peter, who was called by Jesus Himself.
peter, who witnessed Christ's supernatural transfiguration.
peter, who cut off the ear of a threatening roman guard, in an attempt to protect Jesus.
peter, who loved Jesus.
peter, who denied Jesus. not once, but three times.

but peter, whom Jesus still loved and called and filled with His Spirit even after denial and betrayal.

that's the amazing, incomprehensible beauty of Jesus and knowing Him. Love itself, incarnate in Christ, has covered every misstep, every mistake, every weakness, every single thing, every single day....
grace replaces guilt. for peter, for me, for you.

when i include indie in a task, like putting books away for example, do i scold her when she misses a few or puts them in backwards? do i threaten her that i'll take all the books away forever if she doesn't put them away perfectly? do i treat her differently if she puts only one back on the shelf? heck no!
instead, i tell her that she's such a good helper regardless of the amount or how they look, because i know that i'll put them all back, neatly on the shelf, whether she put one or five away. i don't include her because i think she'll do it perfectly... i include her just because i want to, even if it's messy, because i love her..... i believe the same is true when God includes us in His work.

even when we mess up [because we will], Jesus still loves us as His children, still calls us His friends, still chooses to use us as His vessels for His good. He doesn't need or expect us to be perfect, because HE is perfect. He covers and redeems all of our shortcomings and inefficiencies, not because we've earned it but because He desires to do so.

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Jesus."
ephesians 2:4-7

i know i messed up that day, i know missed an opportunity with that homeless man... but God is bigger than my mess-ups, He is gracious and kind, He is rich in mercy. He will still extend love and connection to that man some other way, because He loves him, and He loves me too.
because Grace fills in the gap... (and picks up alllllll the books) :)

G R A C E and love [and a little wallpaper reminder below!] to all of you!! xo!