Basking in His Grace- Part 1
I’ve recently been caught up in a song by Hillsong United called “Like An Avalanche.” (If you know me well, you know that when I find a song I love, it goes on obsessive repeat for a while.) Well, this particular song is on repeat right now because I just love how it captures the wild nature of His grace.
Here is a portion of the lyrics:
King for a slave
Trading Your righteousness for shame
Despite all my pride and foolish ways
Caught in Your infinite embrace
And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love love love
Burning in my heart
Saviour and Friend
Breathing Your life into my heart
Your word is the lamp unto my path
Forever I'm humbled by Your love
Take my life
Take all that I am
With all that I am I will love You
This is grace! “King for a slave. Righteousness for shame. Pride and foolish ways for His infinite embrace." Getting what I do not deserve, and not getting what I do deserve. Yes, this is grace! And this is what I want to spend the next several blogs exploring with you.
I am so eager to jump right into the meat and practicality of “Growing in a Vibrant Friendship with Jesus” and “Growing in Christ-like Character” with you, but I’m also excited about first spending a bit of time basking in His grace with you. So in the next several blogs we are going to be exploring who Jesus is and what His nature is towards us, and how we can make this our starting place with our kids.
There are so many significant reasons why His grace has to be our starting place if we want our kids to know Jesus as not only their Saviour, but also as their best friend. One of those reasons is a statistic I recently read which showed that up to 89% of evangelical teenagers leave the church upon graduation from high school. While the statistic is frightening at best, I do believe there is HOPE. There is hope because we know why this is happening and we also know how to respond.
What we tend to find (although it’s obviously not always the case) is that the teenagers who tend to leave the church upon graduation are the same teenagers who were not typically given a foundation of grace at home or in their church. These teenagers were given “religion”and they did things like memorize the 10 commandments, but they were never introduced to Jesus as their best friend, and they never heard much about Jesus’ unconditional and unrelenting love for them. They were taught what they should be doing for Jesus instead of what Jesus has already done for them.
To captivate our kid’s hearts with the love of Jesus, we have to begin by giving them a foundation of grace- by teaching them who Jesus really is what His nature really is towards them.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
With this truth in mind, I want to share a story with you that I hope will demonstrate, in some small way, how the unconditional and relentless love of Christ is the foundation to raising wholehearted kids.
It was a beautiful fall day, and our family was headed out the door to the elementary school pumpkin patch festival. Mike had some things he had to drop off at the festival so to his dismay, he drove to the school while the kids and I rode our bikes. Taking a bike ride with our kids is no small feat because Owen has to ride on the back of my bike, while Cal rides fairly fast ahead of us and Brennan struggles along behind us all on his training wheels, which often get stuck in the cracks in the road. There is a lot of stopping and starting, to say the least.
As Cal and I approached a busy corner where numerous people were coming and going from the fair and the fairly large “estate sale” taking place at the corner house, I noticed Brennan was lagging too far behind. I asked Cal to stay put while I crept backwards to assist Brennan. After a few moments of helping Brennan get back on track, I looked ahead, only to find Cal nowhere in sight. My heart immediately started racing but I assured myself Cal had chosen to go ahead to the festival because he was anxious to see his friends.
When Brennan, Owen and I arrived at the school bike rack, I didn’t see Cal’s bike on the rack, nor did I see him anywhere on the playground where his friends were playing. I scanned the unfamiliar crowd of people to no avail, and I instantly started to panic. I found a kind friend who offered to keep Brennan while I continued to search for Cal. After several minutes of fear consuming my every thought, I called Mike and then I made the call no parent should ever have to make- I called the police.
As the harsh reality set in that Cal was definitely not at the school, a good friend advised me to back track our path on my bike in case Cal had gotten scared and decided to find his way home. Although I thought there was no possible way Cal would have attempted to find his way home without us, I got back on my bike and headed home in a complete haze, crying out loud and pleading with Jesus to protect my son. “Lord,” I begged, “anything but this.”
As I entered our neighborhood, after what felt like an endless journey home, I saw Cal in the distance, walking up a hill, no shoes or socks on his feet, crying and lost. I began yelling, “Cal, Cal, mommy is here. Come this way Cal!” I raced faster on my bike to get to him, and when he came close, I wrapped my arms around him so tightly it was if I was embracing him for the very last time.
As I was holding my sobbing son, he began apologizing for disobeying me and going ahead of me on his bike. “Mommy,” he cried, “I was so scared and I’m sorry for not listening to you. I was so excited to get to the festival but when I got there, I felt bad about going ahead of you so I turned around to come back to you but I couldn’t find you. I got lost mommy. I’m so sorry.” With a breaking, but relieved heart, I replied, “Cal I love you. Oh I love you so much. I am not mad at you. I am just happy Jesus led you safely home. I was praying He would keep you safe while I searched everywhere for you. No need for apologies right now baby. I am just so happy to have you back in my arms. That is all that matters. I love you so much.”
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Later that night, after the kids were in bed, I was reflecting on the events of the day and I was reminded of the parable that Jesus shared in the gospel of Luke, Chapter 15, about the prodigal son. If you are familiar with the story, you know that it isn’t as much about the rebellious son who ran away from home and squandered his inheritance, as it is about the extravagant way in which the father welcomes his son home upon his return. The forgiving love of the father in this parable symbolizes the divine mercy of our Heavenly Father. This parable is a poignant reminder that when we are in Christ there is no guilt, no shame, no “That is what you get for disobeying me.” There is only “I am so happy to have you back in my arms. That is all that matters right now. I love you so much!” There is only unconditional love.
And this unconditional love is only the beginning of who Jesus really is. I hope you'll stay tuned in the days ahead as we dig deeper into His grace and how Christ longs to be experienced by our kids.