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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

Everything I read and hear these days, Kingdom-wise, seems to point me back to the same thing: I am always on the receiving end; He is always the source. Most recently, I have been thinking in terms of tables.

I have wanted a new kitchen table for quite a while now. Our old set was one of those Amish-built (truly — we got it in Virginia from a Mennonite vendor) round/oval pedestal tables and sturdy windsor-back chairs. I remember being so grateful for it when we were able to buy it, and it held up well to toddler seats and school projects and a cook who isn’t very careful to use hot pads under the chicken casserole (that would be me). But for various reasons, it was time for that set to go. So I listed it on Craig’s List, and it left yesterday for the home of a young couple with a toddler and a baby on the way. It stirred a little wave of sentimentality, I have to admit.

This morning I was looking — for the third day in a row because it intrigues me — at the parable of the sower. I’ve moved on in my reading to some of the other parables that follow it in Matthew: the six “the kingdom is like…” parables. But I keep returning to that first one, and thinking about what kind of soil I am. And why. By Christ’s words, I am good soil. The good soil represents those who hear and understand, those who have ears to hear. I know I am one of those. Most days I know it right down to my toes, and other days I need him to remind me. But I know it. And I know that makes me blessed, because I get to see and hear what the prophets and righteous men of old longed to see but did not, as Jesus tells his disciples. I live in the time of the law written on hearts and minds. Hallelujah!

But why did I get to be good soil?

I don’t have an answer other than “because God ordained it so.” But I do know that the question is one that I started asking way too late in life. I think many of us who grew up in homes where Jesus was loved, “where children early lisp his fame,” who were cherished and well fed and handed every opportunity to know Christ that this world can afford — we can easily be underwhelmed by the gospel. He weaves himself so gently and so faithfully into our life story that it takes a knock on the head for us to see how amazing that grace has been. We may even begin to take some of the credit for his being there. (We were pretty good kids, after all.)

So we do what well fed children often do: we come to the table without a word of thanks to the father who provided the food, and we retire to the couch without asking how we might help with the work of the family, and we assume that meal will always be there. And it is.

I did that as a kid at home, and so did my kids. I think sowing gratefulness in a child’s heart must be one of the greatest challenges in a parent’s job. The “starving children in India” line ought to work, but it just doesn’t. And no matter how ungrateful your children’s hearts may be, you always feed them anyway, because they are your children. Generally, they develop gratitude later, when they have to pay for their own food, or feed their own children.

So how does God work gratefulness into the heart of a son or daughter who has been fed grace from infancy? He works it slowly and faithfully, by the word and by prayer, just as He works the other marks of maturity into us. With the word open in my lap and his Spirit in my ear, I hear him say “blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matt. 13:16-17). And by his grace, I hear, I see, I understand what He means. And by his grace, I am grateful.

This week, this Holy Week, as I have the privilege of being at my Father’s table again, I know that He paid everything He had for this meal, and He did it out of his great love for me.

By his grace, may that knowing keep me off the couch.

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