Posted in Family, life, Scripture

Concrete Desert

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

They were all heading straight for disaster and they didn’t have a clue.  I was walking on our local bike path the other day.  It was early morning but not so early that the sun wasn’t already hot.  It was going to be warm one—especially for May.  As I was walking I looked down and saw several, no many, earthworms on the bike trail. They were trying to make it across.

I know, you’re thinking, “Why did the earthworm cross the bike path?”  The answer is “I don’t know but it sure wasn’t going well.”  Some had already bit the bullet and others were in the struggle of their wormy lives.  Most were squirming…doing everything they could to make it to the other side.  The only thing is, I could see what they could not.  They were a long way from home.

I can just imagine one of the worms with the gift of leadership shouting to his friends, “Keep going guys.  You can make it.  Just a little further.”  The trouble is he just didn’t have the whole picture…the view from above.  From his perspective the end was right over there.  From his perspective just a few more inches and they would be home free. Perspectives from ground level are often like that.  That is why we need someone with a better view.

One of the things I love about believing in God is knowing that He has a higher, better view. He can see things that you just can’t see at ground level.  And when He speaks…He speaks true encouragement because He knows what is around the bend or a few days down the road.  God is really good at helping His kids do life.  If only we would learn to listen.  If only…

See, I talked to some of the earthworms as I walked.  I would say things like, “It’s not looking good, partner.”  Or maybe, “Dude, you’re not gonna make it squirming like that.” Then, “Hey, why are you crossing the bike path anyway?”  I just had to ask. Well, no one listened and on they squirmed.  It was going to be hard day for most of them.

And, then, and this is the truth, I would sometimes stop and actually pitch one or two of them into the cool, wet grass.  It was a random thing I would do.  I would stop, pick one out, and chuck them to the side.  While not one of them said “thanks” it was enough for me to save him or her from the dreaded concrete desert. It just felt good to save a life—even if it was just an earthworm.  I just hope it wasn’t his cousin I put on a hook last week.

When I thought about this whole perspective and rescue thing I just naturally thought about God.  Along with His great perspective, He cares enough to rescue us.  He wants to rescue every person from an eternity without Him.  I mean He loves us so much…and He loved us before we even thought about loving Him.  The Bible says that we love Him because He first loved us.  He saw all our warts, all our imperfections, all our bad choices and chose to love us anyway.  He loved us before we even promised to try and do things right.  A promise, by the way, that we could never keep anyway.

Oh and one more thing.  As I said, I would pick an earthworm to save for no apparent reason.  I just picked one.  God said, “That will never do.” And do you know what, He loved the whole world…everybody…everyone.  Now we still have to choose to repent, choose to follow, choose to believe.  But when we do…well, the welcome sign is out.  Welcome home, son.  Welcome home, daughter. And this is the best part.  Should we wander back onto the concrete desert, He doesn’t say, “Good grief or good luck.”  No He just reaches out, takes us by the hand and pulls us back into the cool, green grass called His presence.  You gotta love that. Well, I don’t know if you will ever feel compelled to rescue an earthworm or not.  But the next time you see one on the sidewalk on a hot May Day, just remember the time He rescued you.  Remember the time He didn’t leave you out in the hot to become a crispy critter.  No, He reached down and picked you up.  Isn’t it great to have a God that cares? That you can rest in?  That’s got this? Yup…I know it’s so.

Posted in life, Mother's Day, Scripture

Mother’s Day- Redemption

“Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Redemption.  It’s one of my favorite words.  One week ago, I wrote a story about Mother’s Day and my feeble attempt to honor the mother of our children.  It was a story of good intentions with a not so good conclusion. It was a story that should have been about honoring but was really about muttering.  It was a story about what was instead of what could have been…should have been.  But, well, it turns out it wasn’t the end of the story.

So, without retelling the whole story (see “Mother’s Day—The Hard Way, May 11, 2020 on gritswithgrace.com) let’s just say I lost a blessing.  Judy asked for a simple Mother’s Day gift and I fumbled the ball.  I did it but with some (ok, a lot) of muttering.  The day ended good with a great hike together and my receiving a reasonable measure of grace.  The next day, Becca, our oldest daughter suggested a trip to Pigeon Forge for a few days as recompense.  That seemed reasonable and doable and is in the planning stages.  But there’s more.

It is the time of year when ladies change their purses.  I know Judy has a dark red one that she uses in winter and a cute (did I just say “cute?”) one for spring.  Well, the cute one for spring has seen its last hurrah.  It is faded like an old leaf on the ground in late fall.  She told me she was looking for a replacement but couldn’t find “the one.”  It had to be a certain kind, it had to be the same color as last year’s, and it had to be a particular design.  She said, “I can’t find what I want.  I guess they just don’t make it.” What she was really saying was, “Here’s a chance for redemption, big boy.”

I jumped on this like “white on rice.”  I like a challenge and love redemption.  Now, I don’t know a thing about purses.  Most guys don’t do purses though some have a “man-bag.” This guy doesn’t do either.  But I do know about the promised land…Ebay.  So, I got my iPhone out, clicked on the icon and entered eBay land.  I tried several key searches. I quickly found out that whoever this Vera Bradley person is, she makes a lot of purses in a lot of designs and in lots of colors.  But I was determined…I was seeking redemption.

Well, Judy wanders in, sits down and together we continue the search.  By the time she got there, I was close.  I could smell it; I just couldn’t taste it.  And then it happened.  There it was. Vera Bradley, coral floral, cross-body purse. The right brand, the right color and the right design. She wondered if it could be true.  She said she would believe it when she could see it, hold it, touch it.  The Saturday after Mother’s Day it came in the mail in all its glory. She saw it, she held it, she touched it. Game. Set. Match.

Her smile was from ear to ear and so was mine.  Her happiness was so evident and so was mine.  She couldn’t believe her prize was in her hands and her “prince” had brought home the bacon.  Oh, I was redeemed all right. The epic failure was gone…replaced by the laurels of “coral floral” victory! Then I said, “Wait…I’ve heard this story before.”  It is the story of God and me…of God and you.

You see, because of our sin, our failures, we were in a hot mess.  We were separated from God and there was no fixing it.  It was epic fail 101.  Then God made a way—the way for rescue, for restoration, for redemption.  And it’s not unlike my Mother’s Day story.  I searched for the one thing that would make redemption possible and found it. And we do the same.  We long for the one thing.  And it isn’t religion. It isn’t being good.  It isn’t stopping a bad habit or starting another.  It is grace.  It is forgiveness.  It is Jesus.

You see, Jesus is not a religion…we have enough of that already. As Jesus said, He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  His death and resurrection made it possible for anyone to come home to God.  He makes it possible for this epic failure to call God, “Father.” Paul, in Colossians 1:13-14, put it this way, “He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Well, I’m glad the story didn’t end with part one.  I’m glad there was a part two. I’m glad for redemption.  And your story never has to end with only a part one.  Whether it is coming home for the first time or coming back home another time, we will always find Him waiting with open arms and a warm embrace. Guess what?  Last Monday I was ok…Judy still loved me.  She’s like that.  This Monday, well, she thinks I hung the moon. She’s like that too.  Today, God waits to welcome you home and guess what?  No, He doesn’t think you hung the moon…He did that.  But He does love you to the moon and back.  So, let go and let Him hold you.  Rest in Him.  He’s got this.