WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• My father and my brother
• What did Jesus say about grace?
• The astonishing life of footballer David Johnson (see two inserts)
MY FATHER AND MY BROTHER: This occurred many years ago. Early in the morning I found my father digging in the garden. His face was contorted and he was angrily turning over sod after sod.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Your brother stayed out partying until 3 am, and then drove off to his Airforce base near Sydney, an 18-hour trip by himself.”
“So what’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong! It’s a long trip….. he may fall asleep at the wheel, crash and die. Starting out after no sleep is just plain stupid. I can’t pray for him.”
His last statement surprised me. “Why can’t you pray for him?”
“Because he made a foolish decision. He’s not looking after himself, just asking for trouble”. Dad returned to his violent digging, jabbing the shovel into the dirt like a jackhammer breaking up pavement.
I turned my face toward the early sun, and it warmed my skin. “Dad, I think we can still pray for him. Maybe we have to first push aside our judgement of the situation, or walk away from our perception of the problem. Then we can pray that God will keep him safe, despite his unwise decision.”
Dad said nothing. He stopped digging, straightened his spine and leaned backward to stretch, so I resumed.
“God loves all of us just as we are. It’s not based on our performance or our church attendance or how often we read the Bible. When he looks down from heaven, he’s not judging us, he’s loving us and wanting a relationship with us. So I suppose we should love my brother in the same manner. And if we love him, we can certainly pray for him.”
Dad’s entire physique relaxed as he leaned forward over the handle of the shovel. A tiny smile settled on his lips. “I reckon I’d forgotten that,” was all he said.
A string of words crept into my brain in a new permutation. “It’s called grace, and it trumps judgmental,” I offered, hoping this made sense.
WHAT DID JESUS SAY ABOUT GRACE?
Not sure he ever used the word, but his actions and stories are pretty clear……
First, a woman caught in adultery was thrown at Jesus’ feet. The leading religious authorities, armed with stones, said the Jewish law required her to be stoned to death. Jesus said okay, if one of you has never sinned let him throw the first stone…..but no-one stepped forward. Jesus told the woman she was free to go, but urged her not to make the same mistake again. The authorities were experts in the law, but they had no grasp of grace.
Second, the prodigal son wasted his share of inheritance by riotous living, and ended up feeding the pigs. When he came to his senses, he decided to return and ask his father if he could be taken back as a hired servant. His father greeted him warmly, but refused his request. No, you will be my son again, he announced, for I am reinstating you.
Third, when he was dying on the cross, one of the real thieves admitted his wrongdoing and asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus replied that the thief would be with him in heaven that day.
First, God’s grace holds us up and carries us along like we are on a river in a raft with Jesus. No more guilt or worrying whether we have sinned unknowingly. Its very liberating.
Second, in Christian circles we sometimes focus on judgement rather than grace. We can get all legalistic about human behavior and forget that we ourselves are inconsistent in some ways, and we fall short every day. In our relationships with others (all others) it’s good to remember that grace trumps judgmental.
Do you agree? Your comments are always encouraging. Please add them to the Comment box at the bottom of the blog…….yes even if you disagree.
The Gray Nomad
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Book of Ephesians, chapter 2].