Sunday, August 7, 2011

Learning Grace

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

I've been reading Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Children With the Love of Jesus, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

God is using their frank and loving words on the gospel, grace, mercy, and sin to turn my thinking upside down. In the best way possible.

I'm going to share several quotes from the book that caught my heart's attention. These are all from the chapter titled, "Jesus Loves All His Little Prodigals and Pharisees." I hope that in some way this might encourage a reader here.

The authors have used the story of the prodigal son as the basis for these thoughts, referring to the older brother as the rule keeper and the prodigal as the rule breaker. They've also used two characters, Susan and David, to illustrate the truths gained from Jesus' parable. Susan is the rule keeper; David is the rule breaker, just for reference.

(Quotes from the book are all in italics)

What's truly amazing is that Jesus Christ loves both rule breakers and rule keepers. And because of His perfect obedience, both of them can be called "beloved sons." When the believing rule breaker sins, he can look up and say "Jesus is my righteousness." And when the believing rule keeper realizes her self-righteousness, she too can look up and say, "Jesus is my righteousness." (Wow. Talk about leveling the playing field. It's so easy to believe that compliant children (or people in general) somehow need a Savior less than their more stubborn counterparts!)

We hinder our children from enjoying God's embrace when we teach them that their religious activity and obedience elevates them out of the category of sinner in need of mercy. (This was me - I always saw myself as not so bad, or better than other people, because I was good at following rules, and hence really not in desperate need of Jesus' forgiveness and help.)

The father's loving welcome extends to both sons, although neither one is worthy or deserving in any way. The father has a higher rule, a greater law: merciful love. Our children...need to hear His message of entreaty: "My arms are open to you; all that is mine is yours. Come and delight in my generous mercy." (Here, the author is referring to the father in the prodigal son story, who, of course, represents God the Father. What a relief to think on it: the Father's loving welcome extends to both sons! What relieving truth to teach my heart and the hearts of my children and the heart of anyone who needs Jesus.)

Being specific about the ways you are simultaneously proud and disobedient will help your children understand that the gospel is for sinners. The gospel is not good news to those who pride themselves on their hard work. (This passage is urging parents to be humble and honest with their children about their own struggles with sin. Again, the leveling of the playing field: Daughter of mine, I face and wrestle with sin, too, and every day I need a Savior, Jesus, who has forgiven, will forgive. Child, you are not the only one who sins, who is tempted! And, oh, have I been proud over my hard work! I listed "being wrong" as one of my mercies recently. This was because God has been showing me how wrongly I've been believing regarding grace. Intellectually, I understood it, but not so much experientially. Thank You, Lord, for teaching me!)

(photos of summer...watering the grass, portulaca that opens before your eyes as the sun hits it, and, one of the many pecan trees that shade us during a very hot 2 hours of swim lessons last week and next week)

Susan and David need to know that they are sinners - that the gospel is for sinners - and that there is a rescuer who loves pouring out mercy on those who cannot help themselves.

Give grace to your children by speaking of sin and mercy. Tell Susan that she can relax into God's loving embrace and stop thinking that she has to perform in order to get her welcoming Father to love her. Tell David that he can have hope that even though he really struggles, he's the very sort of person Jesus loved being around.

I hope that these quotes (these Truths!) bring hope and encouragement to you today.
One more thing - and I must always keep saying this to myself - but may I gently encourage you to do something? Read God's Word and talk to Him each day. Scripture is soul food. Don't starve yourself. Eat every day. You will not regret it, ever. And maybe talking to God isn't easy for you or is new to you, or things are just so hard right now? Speak to Him anyway, even if it's just to say Help. He tells us to pour our hearts out to Him. He's listening. He's the only One who can change anything and He loves you more than you can imagine.
Wait - one last thing, for real. I've still not set an ending time for the giveaway. I've had three precious responses, containing a total of 30 mercies! Praise to the Giver of Mercy!


  1. Encouraging, yes! Thank you for pointing out the aspects of leveling the playing field between rule breaker and rule keeper, AND between parents and children. We're all sinners in need of mercy and grace.

  2. Beth, it took me so long to like the Prodigal story because I identified so much with the older brother! Talking with my wise mother has helped me to appreciate the story, to appreciate who I am as a person STILL in need of God's grace even though I don't look "that bad."

    And my best friend reminded me when I was praising one of my children to her and complaining about the other: easy (as in an easy child) is not a virtue. That has helped me so much to value the qualities in my headstrong, high-energy child as well as my compliant, laid-back child.

  3. Thanks to both of you for your comments. I so enjoy hearing your heart, your thoughts!!