Monday, November 19, 2007

Thankful

This week seems like a good time to update you all by a thankful report on what God has done in our lives this year! I think I'll just write and post in bits and pieces throughout this week.

First of all, I am so thankful to God for the life He has given me. "Abundant life" is a cliche; I think "extravagant grace" may be a better description.

Last week we saw an incredible children's theater performance of the musical "Les Miserables." The power of that story is unequalled, and the music is hauntingly beautiful. (I blogged about it the last time I saw it, too--as a parable of grace and law.) It's been over a week, but still I can't shake a truth that was conveyed by that story.

There is a scene where a paroled convict (whose only crime was stealing a loaf of bread for a dying child), needing food and shelter, is welcomed into the home of a Catholic bishop. In the night, he runs off, taking the Bishop's silverware with him, and is captured and hauled back to the Bishop's home by constables eager to return him to jail. They sing:

Tell his reverence your story
Let us see if he's impressed
You were lodging here last night
You were the honest Bishop's guest.

And then, out of Christian goodness
When he learned about your plight
You maintain he made a present of this silver...

And then the Bishop, surprisingly, incredibly, sings:
That is right.

He continues,
But my friend you left so early
Surely something slipped your mind

[With shocking, extravagant grace, the bishop gives Valjean two silver candlesticks]

You forgot I gave these also
Would you leave the best behind?

This scene shook me to the very core of my being.

Not only does God forgive us our crimes, great and small, but in his mercy He gives us, extravagantly, so much more: love, grace, comfort, peace, and the list continues. God could have accepted Christ's blood as meeting the requirements of the law only--but He wanted to make us new creations, living sacrifices, temples of his Holy Spirit, so He ripped the veil at Christ's death so that we can now live in his presence always, and speak to Him face to face.

In the Old Testament, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, where God's presence was, and only once a year--and then they tied a rope around his waist in case he was unworthy and was struck dead while he was in there.

And now, with Christ as our High Priest, we can enter God's presence any time at all--and I tremble to think of how familiarly we do so, when we ought to be falling to our knees in worship every time.

And yet He is not an exacting God. He is a God of such mercy, such grace, that He forgives us and offers us so much more.

I'm still unpacking what this means. I'm not sure I've really received the Bishop's candlesticks. Often I'm living in a judgmental, under-the-law, tit-for-tat world, vs. a world of such extravagant grace for myself and my fellow human beings.

But sometimes, I'm aware of the blessing of the extravagantly abundant life He's given me. I AM a new creation; I am not who I once was, or who I could have become without Christ. I have the gifts, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I have the mind of Christ; I have the wisdom that comes from above. I have those great and precious promises.

You forgot I gave these also
Would you leave the best behind?

Lord, don't let me walk through this life leaving the best behind. Help my heart and mind to receive all of your extravagant gifts, beginning with the gift of this day.

Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.
(Psalm 81:10)

6 comments:

Islandsparrow said...

Amen Jeanne.

Too often we live in poverty when a lavish banquet is spread before us.

Father give us grace to receive all You have done for us, all You have given us.

Holly said...

Jeanne,

the baby arrived last night and she is FINE!!!!

Thanks so much for your advice and concern!

Rev Colin said...

Hi,I found your Blog via Lindsey's @Just Enjoy the Journey', and I think it's great! I'd love to invite you to write a guest post on my own blog. You can contact me via my website if you agree. Hope you do!
Every blessing,
Rev Colin

clumsy ox said...

Really great post. Thanks.

Kathie said...

What a beautiful message! As missionaries in Costa Rica we see so much poverty and so little caring around us everyday. Thank you for your wonderful and touching words.
Blessings from Costa Rica

Kate said...

Thank you for such a beautiful message. I think I'll be pondering that for the rest of the day - if not longer! Maybe it's those moments where we're aware of the 'extravagant grace' that we should really be reflecting on at this time of Thanksgiving and the start of Advent....Thank you.