Calling Ella: Layers of Grace

Out of his fullness we have all received
grace in place of grace already given. 
John 1:16 

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Not that many years ago, my granddaughter Ella figured if one hair bow was good, layers of bows were bound to be fantastic. She took her cues from rainbows; the more colors, the better. (Tweet that!) And why limit herself to one pattern or design? Wear them all and quadruple the effect.

While I was writing The Calling of Ella McFarland, the concept of God’s providing His grace layer upon layer reminded me of Ella’s hair bows. How amazing that Ella’s Easter egg hunt attire would serve to illustrate one of God’s enduring truths.

As a teen and young adult, I would have told you I understood God’s saving grace. I had experienced it: I heard the Gospel. Believed it. Repented. Confessed the name of Jesus. And was baptized. My sins were washed away, and I was ushered into His body, the church, where forgiveness of future sins was available. All I had to do was ask.

And ask I did … constantly.tomb-232969_1280

But secretly I wondered What if I die before I ask? What’s the state of my soul between one amen and the next? (Tweet that!) 

Somewhere along the line, I had missed out on the answers to these important questions. 

The result? Insecurity. Guilt. Shame. Fear. And the hovering presence of a judgmental spirit.

It took being cast into the throes of a divorce I neither wanted, asked for, nor thought I could live through to come completely undone. Self-sufficiency could claim no part of circumstances beyond my control. (Tweet that!)

So I wandered. In a desert. Lost. Thirsty. Alone.

I sinned. A lot. Willingly. Purposefully. Even gleefully.

I avoided prayer. Ask for forgiveness? What was the point?

love-castle-1042979_1280What better place for God to show Himself than the heart of a daughter who no longer asked for forgiveness? (Tweet that!) Turned out, He wasn’t finished with me yet.

Without my realizing it, He maneuvered circumstances so that discontent would grow in my heart. Heaviness of spirit would force my chin to my chest. And the twisting turmoil in my middle would birth a niggling longing for relief.

Someone mentioned a church in San Antonio. Someone else, books by Max Lucado. No Wonder They Call Him the Savior and God Came Near brought tears to my eyes that couldn’t be staunched.

He loves me even when I’m dirty? He washes me when I haven’t asked? (Tweet that!) 

Bit by relief-seeking bit, the knots in my middle relaxed. I began to pray again. My prayers moved from desperate pleas for forgiveness to gratitude and praise for forgiveness already given. (Tweet that!)  

cakes-314378_1280 copyDecades later, day by day the Lord adds one grace to another like a decadent dessert, one luscious layer upon another. Sweetness. Richness. Surprise. And delight. 

It seems Ella had it right after all. One simple bow is good, but it isn’t nearly enough to illustrate God’s grace. Layers of grace–moment by moment, breath by breath–go far beyond a rainbow. They reach the pot of gold. (Tweet that!)

Precious Lord, we bow before You in sheer gratitude for the richness of Your grace. You’ve lavished it upon us. You’ve add so many layers upon layers we’ve lost count. We’re unable to take it all in. We can only bask in the sweetness. And thank You. For Jesus’ sake ~

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Rest in God’s Grace: Baxter Lesson #3

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The Calling of Ella McFarland is set in 1905, a time when rules were respected. Generally.

Granted, my Cavapoo Baxter’s only 11 weeks old today. He’s still running around with a baby belly, for heaven’s sakes.

Still … rules are rules. 

Even a fluffy little bonbon can’t chew on a table leg. Or go potty on the rug. Or pull shoes out of the closet. 

He may not know why such rules matter, but rules still apply.

biebel-761019_1280When Baxter hears the NO voice, he responds in one of three ways, all of which remind me of me. (Sometimes I get my way; other times not so much.) But they remind me of Scripture, too.

There’s the “Who? Me?” look. Which doesn’t hold water since Baxter knows as well as I that the truth has been made plain … as it was by Jesus: If I had not come and spoken to them [those who rejected him], they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. John 15:22

Other times Baxter tries the “Look at me!” twirl, another tactic that didn’t jesus-753063_1280 impress Jesus:  Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

And then there’s the “Poor me” pout. Which brings to mind the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15 

Baxter’s pout never will translate to the godly mark set in another of Paul’s epistles, 2 Corinthians 7:10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret … but it touches my heart.

Baxter understands Good boy treats, too. He twirls around, rolls over, and splashes kisses. He knows the one who lays down the law also lies down beside him, feeds him, and lets him lick her face.

statue-499190_1280Fortunately for Baxter, he lives in a house of grace. As do I. 

Life Lesson #3 from Baxter: Rest in God’s grace

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14 

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