This Mother’s Day, I was thinking about God’s grace, like the love of a good mom. And how much I need both every day: as a generally near-sighted human being.
But I think God’s good, abundant grace *may not* be all there is to Him. It’s like how Mom’s cooking, her ability to mend any hole in your clothing, and the keys to her car, *may not* be the sum of her parts.
A relationship may reveal more. But that requires something of us. Listening. Communicating. Spending time. Inquiring. Obeying.
Let me clarify: this whole cosmic set-up is entirely dependent on God’s grace. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross paved the road for we sinful folks to relate to God in his perfection. But why’d he do it? To know us, be our friend, and lead us. Guys, he likes us!
But if I just see him as my grace dispenser, my Get Outta Jail Free card, then I’m going to miss out on a deeper relationship with Him.
It’s like if I borrow mom’s car, and get into a fender-bender. She forgives me (because she is THAT cool) and pays for the bumper to be replaced. Then the next weekend, I borrow the car again. Something happens, and I get into another fender-bender. Minor thing. Not much more than a sore neck and another call to the insurance company. Mom takes care of it again: forgives me, and takes it to the body shop. Lets say this trend continues: every weekend I borrow the car, every weekend I bust-up the fender. If this continues for the rest of my life, and she pays for the repairs every time, having my accidents all count against her personal driving record, that’s like the eternal well of God’s grace. It never says “That’s enough! Forget it. I’ve had it with you!”
But, what if mom sits me down after paying for another bumper, and gives me a few driving tips. After all, she hates seeing me injured in so many accidents. I storm off, yelling something about how she is trying to “control my life!”
She lets me go, and the next weekend, when I ask for the keys, she tosses them to me, no questions asked. I get into another fender-bender. She pays for the repairs, then buys my favorite coffee and sits me down with a driving manual, and offers to ride with me sometime to prevent another accident. I finish the coffee, thank her, but decline her offer, assuring her that I drive well enough to get where I need to go. She lets me go.
Then next weekend I borrow the car. Something happens on the freeway, I don’t remember what. I swerve, flip, skid, and become a part of a huge 5-car pile-up on the freeway. Sirens. Ambulance to the hospital. I see mom there. I am in and out of consciousness as they wheel me into surgery. I see her face looking intently down at me, until all dims fuzzy into darkness. I don’t know how much time passes. My memory is broken and only pieces come and go. I feel a nebulous pain, deep, but can’t find where it’s coming from. My head? My belly? Then a low buzz begins, and builds louder in the dark. I remember the feeling of limbs, beginning to move first my arms, then my legs. Myeyes crack open, wincing, blinking. There is a circle above me, dark around the edges. Blink blink… It’s a face. A tender face. Mom’s face.
She grips my hand and sits with me, lying in bandages. She takes me home, and changes my dressings. She bathes my damaged body, and feeds me the most nourishing foods. Slowly my strength returns.
One day, after a silent walk with her around the neighborhood, she turns to me and says, “Now that you’ve healed, you may need to get around more. To run any errands, you can drive my new car. I have a few pointers you could use while on the road.” I bow my head and sigh. I get it. I get why she’s bossy. I accept her offer, and listen to her advice.
Mom’s advice is like God’s commands. Mom’s car is like God’s grace. How we love her car, but hate her driving advice is how we are loving His grace, but hating His commands. We keep getting into trouble. We keep getting hurt and hurting others. What we don’t realize is that His commands are for our own good.
A step back further than that reveals that a car, and driving instructions aren’t “mom.” They’re just things she offers, because she loves us. Just so, grace and commands aren’t “God,” but aspect of his love for us.
We are to know God for who he is, and we are to share ourselves with God, for who we are. Therein lies a relationship: a living, breathing relationship. It can stand the test of time. It grows deeper. If I only accept God’s grace, I stay in the shallow end. Obeying his commands with the help of his Holy Spirit develops my character as more like Christ. Then I can handle more of who God is, because I see more of myself and the world through his eyes. These are just a few of the gifts God has for those with the courage to saying yes to getting to know Him, and to be known – loved, forgiven, and led – by Him.