Traversable Grace

Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. 

Hebrews 4:16


Snow days.  How can you not love them?  Well, I guess if I had an occupation other than school teacher, I might be inclined to receive them with less enthusiasm.  But, since I am a teacher, I love them as much today as I did when I was young!  There’s something stolen about these days that’s derived from the feeling of getting something that you weren’t supposed to have; instead of a scheduled day, it’s a free-calendar day!  I guess, in this, I am a thrill seeker:  a snow day kleptomaniac.  It’s not that I don’t want to go to school; it’s not that I don’t want to enjoy the company of students; it’s not that I don’t want to enjoy the routine of a daily schedule; it’s just that I love getting something for nothing!  And when the phone call comes through…the one whose message I already know before I press one to hear the recording…I feel the excitement rising and the anticipation mounting as I prepare to receive yet another “free day”!

Well, with that said, today was a snow day.  For me, that means catching up on reading while perched beside a window that permits me to watch the falling snow.  My mind, however, always wanders and thoughts pile up as quickly as the snow.  Childhood memories form a flurry of their own and, before the day is through, I’m outside tromping in the snow.

I don’t know which comes first:  the admiration of the snow or the thanksgiving for the snow.  But, regardless of the order, the outcome is always the same; the result is a lesson from the snow.  A few years ago, it emerged in a poem entitled “Snowflakes of Grace”.  Then, there was the lesson of Dirty Grace followed by the revelation of The Accentuation of Grace.  And today, thinking there couldn’t be “anything new under the snow”, I saw there was something new on top of the snow.

The realization came as I walked through the woods…over hill and over dale, so to speak.  I love making the first footsteps in unchartered snow, so I took the liberty of claiming new lands to the right and to the left.  In doing so, I walked in areas that I normally would steer clear of.  There’s the swampy area that I avoid, unless I want to have a pair of boots sucked off my feet.  There’s the uncleared area that I detour around, lest I feel the need to start cleaning it up.  And, lastly, there’s the ‘snakey’ area that I respectfully circumvent because, well…if I were a snake, that’s where I would live.  But, today…today…today I put my footprints where no man has gone before…or at least not since last winter!  And, when I realized that nothing was off limits this time of year, that everyplace was navigable when covered in snow, I knew I’d received my newest lesson on grace…which, for me, is always blanketed in snow.

Snow is seasonal; it comes when it’s cold.  Grace is seasonal, it comes when we sin.  Snow, because of the season in which it occurs, is accompanied by temperatures that make some areas more traversable…and less snakey, let’s definitely not forget the less snakey element…decreasing our boundaries and increasing our territorial borders.  Just as snow makes everything accessible, so too does grace make everything usable.  Are there areas in our life that sin causes us to avoid?  Areas that suck the boots off our feet and clutter our paths?  Grace can cover that.  Are there areas we avoid because we’re afraid of what might lie in the unseen…in the creations of our mind and not the reality of our sight?  Grace can illuminate and provide new vision.  Just as snow falls in its season, so too does grace fall in its season.  The beauty, however, is that the season for grace is perpetual; grace, truly, is never out of season.  Since it’s ushered in by the jet stream of our waywardness, the winds of grace are always circling.

How wonderful to know that God sprinkles grace over all of our terrain, making that which was once avoidable and in need of a detour sign, now fully accessible and even traversable!  There is nothing that grace cannot cover; there is no place that grace cannot fall; there is no sin that grace cannot restructure; there is no one whom grace cannot transform!

As I walked the unchartered areas of the woods, God showed me the unlimited access of His grace.  As I saw the vast area that snow allowed me to traverse, God revealed the vast area that grace allows me…and others…to tread.  As I saw the seasonal element of snow, God showed me the seasonal attribute of grace.  How refreshing it is to walk in nature and to hear from the One who has lessons scattered about for all to find…if we will but look…and listen.

Here’s to walking in the snow.  Here’s to walking upon grace.  Here’s to grace walking all over us.  Here’s to lives that are accessible and traversable in season and never out of season!

Hark!  Is that my phone?  Could it be…oh, my…it is!  Here come those wonderful words… “This is a call from the board of education…please press one to hear this important message”.  I know the words that I will hear, and yet…I still have to press that number one!


A Grace You Can “Grow Into”


“…But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”  Romans 5:20b


               There are some phrases that are less appreciated with age; “you’ll grow into it” is one of them.  When I was young, it wasn’t a bad thing to receive something that, though not a perfect fit at the time, would eventually become something that I would grow into.  From bicycles whose pedals were a stretch to reach, to outfits whose sleeves and legs would require a stretch to fill, growing into something simply meant I had something to look forward to.  But, as an adult, I can’t say that I embrace the concept of growing into something the way I did as a child.  Receiving items I can’t use now…but will have to grow into…is not only unappealing, it’s downright unflattering.  Think about it.  What is there, for a person who’s on the far side of middle-age, that would be exciting to wait for…to grow into?  Cookware?  Well, that would just mean I don’t yet have the culinary skills required to use what I’ve just received.  Books?   Again, if I have to grow into them, I must not have the aptitude to understand them as yet.  And, while this is truly the case with many a text, telling me so will not bring accolades of delight from my lips!  There’s furniture, that can be a nice gift, but the only furniture one grows into at my age is the lift chair and the Hover-round.  And, what about clothing?  While I used to like the idea of growing into an outfit, now…um…need I even answer this?  Nope, there’s not one gift I can think of that I’d like to receive if it meant I’d have to grow into it.

Continue reading “A Grace You Can “Grow Into””

Grace’s Cocoon

Grace’s Cocoon


There once was a very hungry caterpillar,

Who nibbled and chewed as it crept;

Eating leaf after leaf,

It could find no relief,

But ate everything right and then left.

There once was a very chubby caterpillar,

So big it had grown over time;

That it soon settled down,

Spun itself a soft gown,

And, all dressed, it awaited its prime.

There once was a very cozy caterpillar,

Tucked safely within its cocoon;

Under layers it’d spun,

Till its purpose was done,

Knowing change would be evident soon.

There once was a very beautiful butterfly,

Who emerged from a silken bed;

Once wrapped up and held tight,

It then took off in flight,

As it stretched its wings over its head.

There once was a very hungry child of God,

Who nibbled and chewed on His word;

Eating Proverbs and Psalms,

She would feast without qualms,

As each morsel her emptiness cured.

There once was a very well-fed child of God,

Whose wisdom had grown with each bite;

Now content to slow down,

Draped in grace as a gown,

She awaited God’s promise of flight.

There once was a very cozy child of God,

Tucked safely within arms of grace;

Held secure by God’s love,

Mercy wrapped like a glove,

And transformed her within Love’s embrace.

There now is a very beautiful child of God,

Whose wings take her off to great heights;

Over doubts, over fears,

Through the storms, through the tears,

In her wings of God’s grace, she delights!

Rhyme AND Reason

  As we move through the month of March, I thought it might be good to pay homage to Dr. Seuss.  After all, where would we be without Hop on Pop and Green Eggs and Ham?  A phonetically challenged society, to say the least.  So, to the one who gave us One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish…I add to that One Sin, Two Sins, Red Cross, White Robes.  Granted, it doesn’t rhyme, but it overflows with reason!  And speaking of crosses…here is a resurrected writing from two years ago.

Rhyme AND Reason

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”  John 1:16

             I don’t know that I’d call myself an avid reader, but I am an all-the-time reader.  It’s not that I devour everything I read but I like to have an edible pile of books in my literary pantry at all times.  As a result, I have feasted upon quite a few books over the years and have developed a particular taste for some authors.  My all-time favorite is C.S. Lewis, but Max Lucado, Mark Batterson, and John Maxwell make my mouth water, too.  And then there is my other favorite, the one who is as essential to a literary pantry as Little Debbie Nutty Bars are to a kitchen pantry:  Dr. Seuss.  Yes, Theodore Geisel holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.  What lessons there are to retrieve from such classics as The Butter Battle Book, Sneetches, Yertle the Turtle, and The Lorax!  If you don’t believe me, then we need to converse…over a glass of milk and a Nutty Bar.

While I’ve often used Dr. Seuss stories to illustrate Biblical principles, I tend to stay away from his “emergent reader” books.  While Hop on Pop is a great phonetic tool, its ability to delve into Biblical truths is, well, a Flop on Top.  But, I must say that recently God has used one of Dr. Seuss’s early readers to teach me a couple of lessons.  In the book Dr. Seuss’s ABC we find this amazing alliteration…

 “Big A, little a, what begins with a?                                                                                                       Aunt Annie’s alligator, a…a…a.”

                There are two types of truths God exhumed for me in this rhyme:  one grammatical and one Biblical.  In the grammatical sense, there is the reminder that letters come in two forms; capital and lower case.  And then there is the premise that words with the same beginning letter tend to have the same beginning sound.  Before I interject the Biblical truths, let me first walk you to the bridge that will lead us there.  Recently, I was contemplating the nature, and case size, of sin.  As I was talking to God about my sinfulness, I somewhat humorously (I thought) told God that my sin wasn’t a capital letter sin…it was more of a lower case sin, to which my mind quickly recited, ”Big A, little a, what begins with a?”.  I started to list all the sins I could think of that began with an “a”.  Then, I made up my own little jingle.

  “Big A, little a, what begins with a?                                                                                                 Anxiousness and apathy; a…a…a.                                                                                                         Big A, little a, what begins with a?                                                                                                   Avarice and arrogance; a…a…a.                                                                                                             Big A, little a, what begins with a?                                                                                                       Appetites and anarchy; a…a…a.”

 That’s when I saw the bridge of truth…and I couldn’t help but step onto it.  When thinking of sins, we tend to think of them in terms of upper case and lower case; there are the big, capital letter sins and little, lower case sins.  But God looks at them all the same; a sin is a sin.  In Romans 3:23, we are reminded that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and in Isaiah 64:6, we read that “we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like a filthy rag.” So, which sins does God hate the most?  All of them!  He doesn’t separate them or categorize them; they all look the same.   And then I realized there was another truth; not only do all sins look alike, but they also sound alike.  In the same way that words with the same beginning letter have the same initial sound, so too do all unrighteous acts drum out the same chords of dissonance into God’s ears.

With this new reasoning from God, along with the rhymes from Dr. Seuss, I thought a little bit further, dove a little bit deeper (or maybe just wider, this pool isn’t deep enough for diving) and landed upon this thought.  If all our sins look alike and sound alike to God, then let’s demote them all to a lower case status and reserve the capital letters for the words He’s written to cover those sins; let’s give Him the upper case and the upper hand.  Once more my mind went back to this rhyming scheme and this time it chanted,

  “Big A, big A, what begins with A?                                                                                                          Affection and Adoption; A…A…A.                                                                                                              Big A, bigger A, what begins with A?                                                                                                Approval and Assurance; A…A…A.                                                                                                          Big A, biggest A, what begins with A?                                                                                              Acceptance and Admittance; A…A…A.”

And there you have it; two truths from Dr. Seuss’s ABC, made possible of course by the Creator of Rhyme and Reason.  Sins look alike and sound alike to God; they should to us as well.  If we truly owned this truth, not only would we stop trying to minimize (or maximize) our sin, but we’d also stop inadvertently minimizing God’s grace.  Just one of our sins cost Jesus His life; the gift of grace was costly.  If we try to make light of our sin, we are also making light of this gift.  Let’s enjoy the rhythm and reason of God’s grace.

 Big A, little a, what begins with a?                                                                                                            A Savior on A Cross…grace, grace, grace!

The Accentuation of Grace

The Accentuation of Grace

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”  Titus 2:11

Snow in the south is like rain in the desert.  It’s prayed for, rejoiced over, and trampled through.  Its occurrences are rare, so when it does arrive, it is welcomed with squeals of delight and thunderous rounds of applause.  This past Friday, it received a standing…and sliding…ovation!

There’s something magnetic about snow.  Somewhere, in its molecular makeup, there’s a very powerful, people-pulling electron that makes one grab coats, boots, and gloves and run out into the midst of it.  No matter how old I get, when snow starts to fall, so too does my attraction to the indoors.  With each falling flake, I’m magnetized and hypnotized.  The next thing I know, I’ve been pulled outside and the polarized snowflakes are wreaking havoc on my molecular composition!

That’s what happened to me this past Friday.  The snow was falling so beautifully that I just had to go outside.  I walked to the creek, enjoying the snow as it fell within the woods.  As I looked about, I couldn’t help but notice the way the snow outlined the trees…each tree…every tree.  My eyes moved from one to another until I realized I was no longer looking at the woods, but through the woods!  And, my visibility didn’t stop there.  As far as my eyes could see, not only were shapes outlined, but so too were their details, bringing clarity and closeness to that which otherwise would have seemed far away.  Then I wondered…if this is true for snow, is it also true for grace?

If you’ve read a couple of my earlier posts, namely Snowflakes of Grace and Dirty Grace?, you know that I like to compare snow and grace  There’s just such an apparent correlation between the two that it’s hard for me to see the one without thinking of the other.  So on this day, when I was looking at the snow, I was thinking about its counterpart, grace.  And so I wondered, is there a connection between the visibility snow brings to trees and the visibility grace brings to lives?  Does grace etch a person’s life the way snow etches a tree’s branches?  Does grace impact a group the way snow impacts a woods, reducing the assemblage of many to an assortment of individuals?  Does grace, like snow, draw our vision out further and further until we see that which was once unnoticed?  And as I asked, the answers fell with the snow…and within the snow.  And that’s when I saw it:  the accentuation of grace.

I must say, I was not expecting to receive such a lesson.  Snow-lined trees had never appeared before as tutors of God’s word, but on this day that’s just what they were.  And because of God’s grace, I had ears to hear…or, more precisely, eyes to hear.  And through my eyes, God spoke gracefully, glisteningly, and gloriously.  Once again, He showed me truths through His snowflakes of grace.  As I attempt to share these truths with you, please have your visualization glasses handy…they may enhance your hearing!

Remember how I said the snow on the trees caused them to stand out so that I was able to see further?  That simple tracing of white caused each tree to stand apart from the others so that my eye traveled from one to another.   Those that, in their natural coloring, would have blended in with their wooded surroundings, now stood out as if highlighted by nature’s pen. Well, in much the same way, that’s what grace does to us.  Just as snow defines a tree, grace defines us.  Grace has a way of collecting in our crevices, of smoothing over our rough surfaces, and of highlighting our structures.  The presence of grace also causes us to stand out from others as our individuality is illuminated so that we’re no longer seen as a part of the whole, but now we’re seen apart from the whole.

So just how does this grace fall upon us?  How do we become people whose lives are etched with its snow-like purity?  It begins when we are drawn to God; this pulling is nothing short of God giving us that which we do not deserve (the definition of grace).  Paul records this snowfall in Ephesians 2:8.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  The first dusting of grace fell upon us when God called us to become His children through faith in Him.  The second sprinkling came when we received “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Eph. 1:7).  The third flurry fell when we were justified freely by His grace.”  (Romans 3:24).  Then, because we have a Heavenly Father who loves to shower us with grace, He allows us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16).

With such an outpouring of grace, how can we not be demarked and defined?  How can we not stand out among and within the forest of humanity?  What snow does for trees, grace does for people.  The trouble, however, lies in the eyes; in the way that we look with them…and the way that we hear with them.  It’s one thing to notice snow on a tree…it’s quite another to notice grace on a person. Wouldn’t it be nice if, as our eyes scanned across the people we encounter every day, we saw them bedecked in grace?  What if we saw all that God covered rather than all that nature creased?  What if we saw the person instead of the party, the kid instead of the crowd?  What…if…we…saw…grace?  Would it change the way we greeted others, or treated others?  Would it change the distance of our vision…and the distinctness of our vision?  Would we see beyond what lies before and before what lies beyond?  And, if we saw such grace, how much more would we hear?  Instead of letting our eyes give voice to the world, would our eyes now give voice to the Creator?  Would we hear Him every time we saw them?  Here’s what I think:  what’s true in the woods is also true in the woulds.

Oh, that we would allow God’s grace to fall upon us, and to cover us, and to defines us.  Oh, that we would look upon others the way God looks upon us, as recipients of His robes of righteousness.  Oh, that we would see the accentuation of grace on mankind as clearly as we see the delineation of snow on maples.  Oh, that we would see every individual conspicuously outlined by God’s snowfall of grace.  And oh, that we would hear God’s gentle reminder…“for by grace you have been saved…and that not of yourselves…it is a gift from Me.”

A quiet snowfall, a quick walk, a quaint woods, a quaking lesson.  I hope you were able to see it with me…and to hear it with me.  Now, with God’s grace, I hope you will try to walk it with me.  We’ll need grace upon grace…but we have access to a never ending supply at the throne of grace.  Let’s plan on meeting there!