Hi Y’all. I’m sorry I’ve been MIA, I’ve been in southern California visiting family and friends! I fully embraced being present with those I don’t get to see but a few times a year, and my soul was smiling because of it! 🙂
While I was home, I visited the church I grew up in. It’s always a treat to see people who I’ve known since I was a small child! I’ve been able to see the church transition, grow and change while still maintaining the same great love and close-knit, small-town feel. Growing up, Pastor Harold led the the church in rich, deep truth with a vision for mission locally. As a teen, I saw him retire while his son continued the vision for the church. Now, as an adult, it is amazing to go back and see Harold’s grandson also preach at the church. Talk about generations being blessed to be a blessing because of God’s extravagant grace! I am grateful for their faithfulness and leadership over the years and am confident that God will continue to bless and lead the church as they continue to seek and pursue Him. If you live in the southern California area and want to visit a unique, diverse, LOVING, family oriented and Jesus focused church, I know Emmanuel church would love to have you!
While I was there visiting the Sunday night service, I heard a story about grace that has stuck with me even since I’ve come back to Jersey. While this was just a quick metaphor, for some reason I can’t stop thinking about it. It goes something like this…
Growing up, I loved to play baseball. One day, I was playing in the yard and I hit the ball high up in the air, straight through a window in our house.
My parents forgave me, but the window was still broken. The broken glass had to be fixed, and someone was going to have to pay to have the window fixed.
Grace is forgiving whoever broke the window, and then paying to have it fixed.
Will you pay to fix the window?
I don’t know about you, but I have always thought of grace as solely the single part of this dual. I can forgive the broken window, sure. But asking me to pay to have it fixed? Are you crazy?
They deserve to pay for the broken window, surely. They were in the wrong. They should make it right. I am not responsible for paying to fix the window! Why are you asking me if I will pay to fix the window?!
I don’t know about you, but growing up in my house we learned that we have to take responsibility. We have to pay restitution for the things we’ve done wrong against someone else. Yet I was also taught to forgive. Once I accidentally hit my brother in the eye with an aluminum bat while we were playing baseball outside. He was the catcher, and I was the hitter. I was too close to him and when I swung– bam! Straight in his eye. He was mad at me, but he forgave me. I apologized. He continued to let me play baseball with him and his friends. I believe this is right; owning our mistakes and forgiving those who wrong us. I will teach my daughter to do this.
But what about the other side of grace?
What about when someone wrongs you and there’s still “broken glass”? What if there’s still a mess of “spilled milk” on the floor and you certainly weren’t the one who knocked over the glass? Will you pay to fix the window? Will you mop up the spill?
I am seeing more clearly than ever before that I am not by any nature one to pay for the window. I want the person who wronged me to willingly pay for it and then some. I want that broken glass vacuumed up cleanly, without a shard left, and a double-pane window installed professionally. This is my nature.
But God does things so differently, so lavishly, so excessive, so absurdly inappropriate for what we deserve.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8
But God, being rich in mercy,because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:4-7
God paid to fix the window… Grace stacked on grace stacked on GRACE.
Lord, can you teach me to pay too?
Just the other night the hubs and I were talking about just this. Later on in the evening we began a “lively discussion” in which we ended by looking at each other with complete defeat in our eyes. “Weren’t we just talking about this?” He said to me. “Neither one of us wants to pay for the window.”
Paying for the window will not be easy. It’s not one of those easy elementary Sunday School lessons. I am in for the long haul here. It’s easy to say we want to pay until someone cracks a ball straight through the glass and suddenly there’s a real window to pay for, right? When the rubber meets the road– when the ball smashes through the glass– Lord help me to open the wallet of my heart begin paying for that window. Even if it’s penny by penny, let me start now. Will you join me?
***Praying for our little online community as we close the summer season and enter into the fall! Fall is a time of great transitions… School, namely, along with the weather and more structured routines and holidays on the horizon. I pray we would be rested well for the season ahead and our hearts would be open to where God is leading us. Also, if you read Krista’s post earlier this week, please pray for her family as they prepare to move to South Carolina! My heart is so incredibly happy for her (and a little bit sad for me, if I’m honest!). Lots of transitions ahead, and I’m so grateful for our Urban Hallelujah community who has shared with us through all of them and will continue to share in what is to come. You guys are the best!***