Posted tagged ‘the grace of God’

Christian Tutorials

January 4, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 January 4, 2018


Recently my son-in-law’s Audi wouldn’t start. One day it had, the next day it didn’t! My daughter lugged the battery to NAPA and got a new one. The new battery, however, didn’t fix the problem. So my son-in-law went online and watched YouTube video tutorials that explained how to fix this problem, and then that problem. Armed with this knowledge and his tools he attacked the stationary vehicle once again.

Finally, the tow truck was called and it was towed to the mechanic where a thousand dollars later hopefully it will be fixed.

Some of that story resonates with me when I think of living the Christian life. Let me explain! Yesterday I was walking amongst the book aisles of Mardel’s, the Christian book store a few miles from our house. One of the long bookshelves was occupied with the best-selling books of the Christian faith this past year. I browsed, picked up a couple for clarification on what they were about, and then went on.

What was revealing to me was the fact that most of the books were written to answer questions, like how to pray or how to be a woman of God or a man of God? They were an assortment of self-help guides as to how to live the Christian life. They were about process and executing a plan. I walked away saying how nice it is to have tutorials for living the Christian life, and yet being a bit uneasy about it as well.

The Christian life is a journey, an ongoing relationship with the Holy. Our tendency as flawed beings is to try to figure out how to successfully live out that journey. The rub, however, is that it isn’t about succeeding. It’s about being.

If I’m focused so much on how to walk with God I will barely experience the walking with God. Like an educated adult, if I’m YouTubing how to pray with power I will detour around the childlike words of a simple faith.

Like my son-in-law’s quest to be an at-home Audi mechanic, sometimes as followers of Jesus we must simply surrender to the fact that we can’t do this on our own; that we won’t be able to figure everything out, establish a fail proof plan for reaching the mountaintop with God, and trust the Maker. There is simply not a way for us, as they say, “to be all that” when we acknowledge that the grace of God is intimately mingled into our existence. It’s difficult to calculate where I am on the journey when I forget where God is on the same journey.

Psalm 46:10 tells us to “be still, and know that I am God.” For many believers there is an immediate jump to “how do I be still?” But you see, it isn’t about us! It’s about us being still and letting God be who he is. It’s realizing that I’m in the passenger seat and the one who knows all and is all is driving the direction of my life.

The End of Grace (Tree)

July 5, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           July 5, 2017


On January 9th of this year a wind storm whipped through our area, registering speeds of 103 miles per hour. Power lines were downed, semis were overturned, shingles were blown off roofs, fences collapsed, and trees were uprooted.

At our house the “Grace Tree” lay on its side like the family pet hit by a car. Hospice didn’t need to be called. It had been put out of its misery already!

The “Grace Tree” was situated in the front yard of our house to the side of the driveway. It had been about five feet tall when we moved in eighteen years ago. At the Day of Reckoning it was about fifteen feet in height, but…ugly in appearance. Our former neighbor, David Volitis, labeled it “the ugliest tree ever.” Think teenager with a bad case of acne…and warts…and missing half of his front teeth!

Across the street at McGillivray’s another pine tree has the look of one of those special trees that gets chopped down and re-situated in front of the White House at Christmas time. It looks like it could be the inspiration for a few Thomas Kincaid paintings.

And the thing is…that tree and our Grace Tree were planted at the same time. Now they looked like the Homecoming Queen and her ugly sister!

What our tree reminded me about…every time I pulled into our driveway…was the grace of God. It got harder to look at every year. Instead of growing wider each year, like me, it just kept growing taller with no increase in width! Each time I arrived home to see it standing there I would say to myself, “If not for the grace of God…” Every year I thought about borrowing our neighbor’s axe and going “Paul Bunyan” on it, but I held off. Every time I saw the homely pine I thought about how undeserving I was of God’s blessings.

“If not for the grace of God…”

And then January 9th arrived and grace ended with a thud around 6 A.M. I suppose you can say that even grace has its limits! We expect it to always be the operating system of our life but at some point we tend to stop seeing it as a gift and view it, instead, as an expectation. Grace gets mis-defined as something we’re entitled to, and will always be there…regardless!

The lesson I take from our “Grace Tree” is not that God’s wrath is surely to come if I don’t get my act together. On the contrary, what I take from it is that God’s love for me goes far beyond the tipping point. In a world where things and people are tossed to the side when they lose their beauty grace is difficult for people to understand. It is rooted in love and shaded by kindness.

Loving kindness, that’s what it is!

The Grace of The IRS

April 19, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      April 19, 2016


One restaurant chain offered a special deal last Friday, April 15, where a customer could receive a free entree with the purchase of an entree. They just assumed that April 15 was Tax Day, like it usually is!

But, lo and behold, the Internal Revenue Service had delayed the income tax return filing date until Monday, April 18. The three extra days allowed millions of people to procrastinate even longer in paying up!

The extra days came as a result of Emancipation Day, a holiday that is celebrated in the District of Columbia to recognize when slaves were freed there. Since Emancipation Day is April 16, a Saturday, the day before (April 15) became a holiday for government workers in D.C.

Thus the three day stay of execution!

Consider the three days as the grace of the IRS. What is rightfully due to them was backed off for seventy-two hours. Across the country there was a collective sigh of relief, like when a snow day postponed that Algebra test we were scheduled to take at school. Our initial thought was “Thank God! Another day to study and prepare!”, and that thought soon melted away from our minds as we went sledding with the neighbor’s kids. That evening we prayed to God for a blizzard to descend upon us, or, if not that, that he might eliminate Algebra as a school subject entirely!

The IRS planned this three day grace period long before it arrived, but, you see, grace is not high on the IRS’s priority list. Monday came…tax returns were filed…and the money was due.

And let’s be honest! The grace of the IRS, limited and distorted as it is, mirrors our own extended grace. We’re prone to back off from throwing the hammer down…for a while, and then we become stone-faced and legalistic.

One reason for that is that people take advantage of a grace-filled person. When someone hears that there is a grace period he often looks to see how he can personally gain from it. A person of grace is seen as being a soft touch.

And so, like the IRS, we offer limited grace, because…that’s just how it should be!

The more I comprehend the grace of God the more I am overwhelmed by it. It filters into my life and I know I’m not deserving. It confounds the minds of those who live by right-and-wrong boundaries.

In makes no sense to most of us, and yet, as followers of Christ, we trumpet its virtues.

This year we wrote a check to the United States Treasury that lowered the national debt a wee bit. What do you think the IRS would have said to me if I would have pleaded for mercy? Would compassion have been the response? If you believe that, I have some excellent shares of Krispy Kreme stock I’d like to sell you!