GOD is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace. ~ Psalm 145:9 MSG
Do you hear the Master calling?
There’s a twinkle in His eyes and a huge gift in His hands. Notice how the golden paper glistens with a metallic gleam? And don’t you just love the big, blood-red bow?
A present. Just in time for the holidays.
Your Best Friend is really excited about your gift. He’s done all the work—choosing carefully what you need most, going to great sacrifice to procure it for you. All that’s left is for you to open it. Won’t you focus on Him and unwrap His gift?
You pull the pretty velvet bow apart and lift the lid. You can’t see what’s inside, but you can smell it. It smells like lilacs and fresh cut grass and sunshine. You can feel the present, too. It’s solid as iron, soft as a baby’s cheek, and makes you warm all over. You can even hear your gift. One minute it swells with symphonic melody, the next it sings with the sweetness of a child. You can almost taste it on your tongue. It’s meat, potatoes, and vegetables—all that is solid and healthy—and it is also silky chocolate and all that is sweet.
“What is it?” You ask.
“It’s My grace.” He speaks with hushed voice, a tinge of emotion lacing His words.
You stare at the box. You’ve heard about grace before, but you’ve never really experienced it. Who knew that grace would have a smell, a feel, a taste?
He suggests you reach inside.
You pull out a G and frown.
Jesus chuckles. “G is for guilty no more. Too many times you heap condemnation upon yourself. You are overwhelmed with your many tasks and feel guilty that there’s dust on the mantel. But it goes deeper. You beat yourself up for faults and failures I’ve erased from your record. I’ve already forgotten them. There’s no need to be angry with yourself. I gave my life so you could live without condemnation. You are guilty no more. If you don’t believe me, read Romans 8:1. Read it a thousand times and tape it on your bathroom mirror. Live as you are, my dear: Free from condemnation.”
You have a big lump in your throat and since you can’t talk, you reach back into the box. The letter R is in your hand.
The Lord gently lifts your face to His. “R is for Rest in Me. Come to Me when you labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your soul.” *
“I try, but it is so hard to rest,” you say.
Jesus tilts his head. “Think about a nursing baby—how a mother cradles him in her arms, and he nuzzles to her breast. He is nourished, body and soul. Even as he was fed, he never takes his eyes off of his mother, gazing with complete satisfaction, trust, and peace. Rest in me as that baby rested. I will nourish you. I will lead and comfort you.”
Your eyes are glued to the Master, hungry to believe all He is saying, but there is hesitancy, a fear you don’t deserve to rest.
My child, did the baby do anything to earn love?”
You shake your head. “He could do nothing to help his mother.”
“In the same way, I don’t expect you to earn My love or the right to rest. I simply come and say, ‘Are you tired? Let me help you. Are you burdened? Let me carry it.’”
Little tears gather in your eyes as you listen to Him. It’s so much to absorb, and you haven’t even spelled out the whole word. You hesitate. The Lord reaches in the box and pulls out the next letter, A. With trembling fingers you reach for it, running your thumb down its long, sleek sides.
“Accept My unconditional love,” He says. ” I stand before you with My arms open wide, longing to enfold you in them, but too often you duck your head and walk away. You let shame, guilt, or feelings of inadequacy keep you from Me. Sometimes you push Me away in anger. But I have loved you with an everlasting love.** Nothing you’ve ever done has made Me regret loving you, and nothing can take My love away.
“When I died on Calvary, I made it possible for us to be in close relationship. I washed your every misstep away in the river of My blood. There is nothing to separate us.” ***
You’re weeping freely now. He’s right. The Christian life is about Jesus and the righteousness He gives. You keep making it about your performance, causing both your pride and your guilt to keep you from His arms. “I’m sorry,” you whisper.
Jesus puts an arm around you. “Take the next letter.”
You reach into the box and hand Him the C. He lays it across your heart. “C is for Christ in you, dearest. I am your hope of glory. You try so hard to be good. Trust Me, and let Me make you good. The good work I’ve begun in you will be completed. Stop striving. You are My masterpiece. Will I not finish it?” ****
The Lord reaches into the box for the last letter. You still weep silently, leaning your head against His shoulder. “E is for Empowered. I am the One who empowers you to be all I’ve created you to be. Spiritual maturity isn’t chasing after good works or achieving your dreams. It isn’t being perfect. It is knowing Me and letting your life flow from our relationship.
“Let Me empower you, dear one. I am the one who gives you the grace to accomplish all I ask of you.” *****
You nod. He hugs you and then kisses your cheek. You sit awhile, fingering each letter, His words echoing in your soul. Then you place those elegant, golden letters on your mantel, one-by-one:
G–Guilty no more
R–Rest in Christ
A–Accept His unconditional love
C–Christ, my hope of glory
E–Empowered by His Spirit
You linger next to them, breathing in the scent of grace. There could be no greater gift.
Sweet Jesus, thank You for the gift of grace. May I believe it. Taste it. Touch it. Inhale it. Linger in it. And may I know it so well it flows freely from me to others.
*Matthew 11:28, AMPC
****Ephesians 2:10, NLT
Join us each day through December 25 for my journey to the manager–from a child who believed Christmas was taboo to a woman who longs to worship at Christmas. These devotional thoughts are excerpted from Soul Scents: Flourish, which releases soon. If you’re chiming in late, you can see the whole series here. Just scroll down to December 1 in this category.