Friday, February 6, 2015

Grace From Our Father

Friday, February 6, 2015

John 1:16 "And from his fullness we have received grace upon grace."
 
 
My husband's birthday is really close to Christmas. This means, that a lot of the time, his birthday is often overlooked due to other festivities. A few years ago, I worked with our small group men to set him up a random surprise birthday. They would meet early at a restaurant and get a table. I would pretend to "take John on a date," but instead, leave him there for a guy's night. My husband works hard; he deserved a break.
 

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Flash back a few years with me. My dad, is what we call a "blue collar, hard working type of  man." He is an electrician by trade and hunter by hobby. As a young girl, I remember him waking at 4:30 A.M. to brew his coffee and head out the door. The sound of his broken in leather laces being tied up his steel toe boots was like a rhythm to me. "Wisp, wisp, tighten. Wisp, wisp, tighten." I would listen to him pour his coffee into his steel thermos as I would bound up the stairs for a firm, coffee flavored kiss goodbye.

Growing up with my dad had made not so happy memories, too. Since I don't have permission to share his story yet, I will simply share a small portion that is involved with mine.

My dad was angry. A lot. His temper would rage for hours some nights. Sometimes, even if I was in bed at night, I would feel as though hiding in a closet were a better idea. He has a lot he carries on his shoulders, and I see that now as an adult. As a kid, morning was my time with him. I was excited to be all by myself with him in the quiet house as he was getting ready.

He has always sacrificed his wants and desires so that his family of 7 children could have shoes, food, and a house heated through the winter. He has never complained about his worn down boots, his distressed pants, or his well broken in Carhartt coat. If his family had what they needed, he was content.

It wasn't until two years ago my dad finally got himself a newer used truck. A GMC, four doors, leather seats, Bose speakers. It was a salvage title (you'd never tell) so he got a deal on it. Honestly, all of us kids were beyond excited for him and I cried when my sister texted me the photo of it.

You see, now my dad is a grandpa. Watching him with my girls melts me. He is so, so good with them. The rage from my childhood is nowhere in this man. This is because "Papa" met head on with the grace of his Father.

Back to my husband's birthday party.
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I arranged for my siblings to come babysit so my "operation take John out to eat" was a go. Everything went wrong from the beginning. John was "hangry," my siblings showed up too early, and I knew that the small group guys usually run behind (they have families, too). My husband began to get really irritated that we were not leaving yet. When we got in the car, I continually kept "forgetting things" so I could run in the house and stall. By the time I got out to the car, John was livid, hungry, and ready to go. The guys wouldn't show up yet for another half hour. I explained we would return a movie before we ate and proceeded to get a grumpy response. Agitated, I whipped the car into reverse, hit the gas, and backed out of the garage briskly...

Right into my dad's truck.

Yep. That just happened. I got out, shaking, to assess the damage. You see, in my agitation, I never even thought about how close my brother would have parked the truck to my side of the driveway. My car was fine but my dad's truck had a dent from the second driver side door all the way down to the back left tire. Panic began to set in. Guilt, stress, and frustration consumed me. I cried, I was shaking, I was beside myself. John said, "Well, there is nothing we can do about it now so lets go eat." I drove him to the restaurant, we arrived before half the guys, the gig was up. I left deflated. After decorating his office for a next day surprise, I went home to release my siblings.

A few hours later, as I was laying awake in bed my phone rang. "Your dad is calling you, wants to see what you're up to... if you wait till this song is through, you just might miss him..."

"Hello?" I said, nervously.

"Honey, (dad chuckles) are you okay?  Don't worry about the hunk of metal in my driveway. You are more important to me than a truck. It's almost Christmas, let's worry about fixing it after the Holiday is over."

I cried. I apologized. And I promised we could fix it.

I learned more from my dad's grace that day then I ever would have learned from his rage. He learned a truth in his own life; that God's grace pursues us even in our dark places.

My husband still picks on me because I refuse to back up when people park behind me. I make a complete stop at stop signs, even with no other cars there. I use blinkers and buckle up. In short, I have learned to slow down and check my surroundings. I have made the effort to change where I went wrong. If I don't learn and grow in the grace shown to me then my dad's grace was wasted(Romans 6:1-4).

I am reminded to drive better every single time I see his truck because the dent still sits there. He refused to let us fix it because our insurance would go up. That's my father's grace, a cycle he learned to pass down from Jesus' example.

 
A few days ago, my five-year-old daughter was being nasty. She was upset over some electronic device and it got taken away from her. She started to be mean to her sisters, and disrespect spewed from her little lips at me. I sent her to her room which escalated to a door slamming hard in my face. I opened the door, flung words of rage, and slammed it back shut. My husband happened to come home in the middle of my, " Your stupid attitude is going to cost you your Awana this week you snotty little toddler!" rant.
 
As God worked on my own "stupid attitude" as I sulked out on the couch for yet *another* mom fail moment, my daughter came out and climbed up next to me. This was when my husband stopped her and said, "Don't you dare get off that couch until you say sorry." So, of course she mumbles out a quick, "Sorry."
 
In my husband's defense, he wanted my daughter to be sorry for what she had done and was defending me.
 
 But he carried on. "Sorry for WHAT exactly."
 
She mumbles, "I don't know."
 
"Don't get off that couch until you know what you are sorry for!" he bluntly finished the conversation.
 
It was at that point that we engaged in my second consecutive mom fail moment. I began to tell my husband about how I would rather have an honest apology when she is ready then have a forced apology when she's not. I didn't care if she got off the couch and went on her way, I wanted an apology when she was humble and ready to offer it with the right heart condition.
 
Who was right?
 
Neither of us.
 
As much as I want to say my theory was "more right" than my husband's, mine was just as wrong. Because the root of her apology points out to one thing, we both wanted her heart condition to be our ideal before she could approach me. He wanted her to understand and I wanted her to be humble even if she didn't.
 
God's grace doesn't call for either. God's word says that it is by grace we have been saved (Eph. 2:8-9), that while we were still sinning, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), and that his grace abounds in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That means, no matter what we have done or what we will do, God gave us something we didn't deserve before our heart conditions were "right." He sent his Son to save us even before we "understood what we did wrong." He says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest!" We can come to him right now, just as we are, whatever "stupid attitudes" or burdens we carry and he will take them from us, no stipulations or hidden clauses somewhere in tiny font at the bottom of his agreement.
 
Do you find that refreshing? I do.
 
What is most beautiful to me about God's grace is that he doesn't tell us to wait until we stop watching porn, stop smoking, stop yelling at our kids, or to wait until we get out of debt. He doesn't tell us to come to him when we have lost the weight, after we start going to church more, or have made a few amends. He tells us to come just as we are, right now. Then he promises that through his strength and with his grace, we can become better for the glory of our Father!
 
Forgiveness is now. When we don't deserve it, because that is the promise of grace from our Father!
 
 
 
John 5:19
"Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you,
the Son can do nothing by himself;
he can only do what he sees his Father doing,
because whatever the Father does
the son also does."

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