(Originally Posted on September 8, 2010)
When I returned from Austria, many surprises awaited me. One such surprise was that I was suddenly my sorority’s chaplain. Normally, positions such as chaplain begin in the spring semester and continue through the fall semester; rarely do they switch people in the middle. Well, it just so happened that last semester’s chaplain got engaged and became “inactive,” and as a result could no longer be the chaplain. So, our house was in need of a new chaplain. Somehow or another, I was chosen to fill that role. Though very unexpected, this surprise was a happy one for me, for just before leaving Graz, I prayed that God would use me in Kappa Delta in new ways. Apparently, this chaplain position was His answer to my prayer. But little did I know how much He would use this Bible study to influence me.
Tonight was our second meeting. Last week, we just discussed what we wanted to talk about this semester; we decided on Ephesians, and our assignment was to read the first chapter. Tonight, we met to talk about what we had learned. And after listening to what my sorority sisters had to say, I was completely blown away.
In the first chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul focuses a great deal on the blessings we have in Christ. Specifically, he talks about how we are holy and blameless in God’s sight and how God lavishes His grace upon us by adopting us as His children. It’s a couple paragraphs positively chock-full of beautiful language and hope-giving images about how much God loves us. In other words, it’s awesome.
But despite its obvious awesomeness, I somehow managed to overlook the main message of this chapter when I read it before. Tonight, though, I was reminded about how real God’s grace is—and what exactly that means for all of us.
After forty-five minutes of awesome discussion about this chapter, my younger sister Kirsten (also known as “Rascal”) shared a story with us. She’d heard it when she was eight or nine years old, but it has stuck in her mind over the years. And I am so grateful that she decided to bless us with it tonight. Here it is:
One day there was a terrible fire in a house. A family of three lived in the house: father, mother, and son. Both of the parents perished in the fire, but the little boy was rescued by a stranger who happened to be nearby when the fire broke out. Because the little boy had no other family members, a judge was asked to decide who should adopt him. A wealthy family came forward and explained that they could give the boy everything he could possibly want and more. A large family from out in the country said that he would have plenty of brothers and sisters to play with, running around outdoors in the sunshine.
Finally, a single man hobbled forward from the back of the room. Deformed, crippled, and badly scarred, the man looked like the last person the boy or the judge would possibly choose. Still, upon seeing the man, the little boy sprinted to him and hugged him with all of his might, crying with excitement and joy. This was the man who had saved him from the fire; his deformities and scars came from his sacrifice for the child’s life. How could the boy possibly choose the other families when this man loved him enough to risk his life for him? He couldn’t. There’s no way. Never in a million years would he reject his savior.
Then how could we? Jesus came down from heaven, became human, lived among us for 30+ years eating our stale food, smelling our foul odors, and watching our sinful ways. And then He did the unthinkable: He died for us so that we could live. He gave up everything He had to save us. He was the ultimate sacrifice.
So how could we possibly choose worldly wealth, selfish ambitions, or anything else? How could we pick any of these things over HIM?
I know this. I understand the gravity of this concept. I realize that I should choose Jesus. But then why do I reject my Savior again and again? Why do I leave Him hurting in the corner all alone, waiting for me? I don’t know why I do these things. I hate that I fail Him. Yet I keep doing it, over and over again.
But though my sin is deep, His grace is deeper.
His grace, freely given to us, is the most precious gift ever offered. He covers our sin with His holiness, washing away our stains and making us white as snow. Because of His grace, we can be clean. By His sacrifice, we are redeemed. Life doesn’t get any better than that.
So my prayer for you and for me today is that we will, by His grace, turn our backs to the temptations, distractions, and trappings of this world and RUN—run full-speed and with abandon to the One who saves. And know that He stands waiting for us, with His arms wide open.