“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Galatians 6:1
One of my children had messed up. Badly. And, worse, it involved our neighbor’s fence. Once I coaxed out a confession, we sat in chairs opposite one another. Feelings and thoughts welled up in me: anger, disappointment, confusion as to why this child would have done such a thing, the urge to grab the child by the shoulders and shake some sense into that young head.
Stunned into silence for a moment, all I could do was shake my head and stare and pray–a lot.
Suddenly, I thought about how I might be feeling if I had made a similar choice. I opened my arms and beckoned my child come into my embrace. The response was immediate and my child melted into me, misery and regret almost tangible.
Extending grace turned my child’s heart toward repentance.
Later I couldn’t help but think I got a little glimpse of how our Heavenly Father opens His arms to us when we have sinned.
It’s so simple and so beautiful.
As my child melted against me I spoke softly, telling them I loved them, but I was so sad they made the choice they made and I could see how sorry they were, but that I couldn’t protect them from the consequences of their choice. I also couldn’t promise what those consequences would be, but I didn’t foresee them being easy to face.
Is that also how God does it, I wondered?
Our sin grieves His heart and he allows the consequences so that we might learn from our mistakes.
Even if those consequences are painful.
Out of his love and, yes His grace, He allows them to be a much more poignant reminder than any lecture or angry words could imprint.
After that my child was ready to face what lay ahead and we walked to the neighbor’s house. As we walked up to the neighbor, I continued to pray, still stunned. My child stood ashamed and couldn’t quite get the words out, and the neighbor kindly looked at him and, somehow knowing, asked about the very thing my child was trying to confess.
Still more grace.
He could have been angry. He could have shamed my child, but he chose to show grace.
My child was able to sincerely apologize and my husband supervised the clean up.
The situation was bad, but grace prevailed and I was so thankful.
Am I always so quick to show grace? No. In fact, I’m not even sure I can claim it as my default. In fact, I know I can’t.
Oh, but I want it to be.
I want to reflect the heart of my Father, but I have to be honest and I don’t always treat others who err (including my children) the way I responded on this particular day. So often by response is anything but gracious.
But, in an ironic twist, because of grace, I can keep trying and practicing until the abundant grace I have received and am receiving still pours into me and through me—so much grace that I struggle to grasp it and to hold it all in my arms. So much grace my arms are so full, I simply cannot hold it and it spills out of my arms and covers everything and everyone in my path.
That is my heart’s desire.
Alas, the flesh is ever in my way, but grace is always my goal. To freely receive it and to abundantly give it is as our Father does.
This blog is to encourage others to the same—to receive God’s amazing grace and then let it pour through you onto a hurting and dying world so that they might know Him.
My child did not deserve forgiveness that day. Punishment and condemnation was justified, yet grace is what was given.
It changed my child’s heart
And grace is the one thing that can also change ours.