(Excerpted from 40 Days of Discovery, a devotional series written for Fellowship Community Church in Centennial, Colo.)
The van was old and dirty, and getting dirtier every mile we drove down the dusty road. We were on the edges of our cracked vinyl seats, eyes peeled, looking for the first signs of life. Suddenly, up ahead in the distance we saw movement. We looked at each other with wide grins. As we drew closer, the object grew larger and larger, and when it saw us it began to run—long, loping strides. We both cheered! The giraffe was the first sign of wildlife that we had seen in Namibia (other than the occasional monkey or warthog running along the side of the road.) Bill and I were ecstatic!
After the giraffe, we saw zebras and oryx and kudus and elands and ostriches. Each new species was a cause for awe and wonder. Then we went looking for the more elusive big game—lions, elephants and black rhinos.
Another Large, Flightless Bird
Throughout the first day, we were still excited whenever we saw more of the giraffes and zebras and oryx and kudus and elands and ostriches. But, by the end of the second day, they had become part of the scenery. There were just so many of them, and they were everywhere. It became a joke to us—"Oh, how exciting, another large, flightless bird," we'd say in a deadpan voice. "Oh, wonder of wonders, another striped pony-wannabe." What was once awe-inspiring had become mundane.
In the same way, certain words, over time, lose the power they once had—commitment, sacrifice, sin, morality. "Grace" has become one of these words. We sing by rote about God's "Amazing Grace"—letting fly by the remarkable truth of its being bestowed upon a "wretch like me" ("wretch"—another of those words that just doesn't communicate all it used to). When we see someone committed to a false religion or living a hedonistic lifestyle, we casually throw out a "There but by the grace of God go I" without stopping to ponder the depth of the reality of the statement.
Most Bizarre Concept
Grace, defined as the "free and unmerited favor of God," is one of the most powerful and most bizarre concepts that exists. God, the Supreme Creator and Superintendent of the Universe, wanted so desperately to have a loving relationship with His obnoxious little creations (who spend most of their lives consciously or unconsciously doing the exact things that He asks them not to do) that He devised a system that would allow us into His holy presence. And He did this not by becoming a pitiful little weasel-God who bypasses the necessary rules to get what He wants. Instead, He showed Himself to be a strong, loving, consistent God who was willing to sacrifice Himself in order to maintain the proper ethical system established on the foundation of His character.
All this so we could be near Him…
All this when we still hated His guts…
Read Romans 5:6-10. What strikes you about the timing of Christ's sacrifice? What does this say about God?
Read Ephesians 2:1-10. What motivated God to save us? (v. 4)
The word in v. 10 translated "workmanship," is the Greek "poiema," from which we derive the word "poem." You are God's work of art. Michelangelo's David is a world-renowned piece of sculpture, admired by so many for centuries. But you are being crafted by the Master Craftsman, and the Bible promises, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) What are some of the beautiful changes God has crafted in your life?
Some of God's graces include salvation, spiritual gifts, health, family, finances and friends. We all take these for granted at times. Why not thank God for each grace.
Take some time today to reflect on the statement, "There but by the grace of God go I." Think through what your life would be like if God hadn't reached out to you and given you His free gift of grace. Thank Him for being willing to make the first move.
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