I know summer is basically over, but I want to share with you about an unfortunate event that I had at the beach this summer. While on a day trip with a friend I forgot to put sunscreen on my stomach. I had a romper on, and had taken down the straps to avoid a terrible tan line, and a small part of my stomach was exposed, and I didn’t really realize it.
For 5 hours that part of my stomach was exposed to the hot Jersey shore sun. And it was painful right away. You know a sunburn is bad, when it still hurts like 4 days later, and starts to blister after a week. You know how I wanted to avoid a terrible tan line? Yeah, I have a terrible weird patch of tan/red on my stomach (and it’s over a month later).
I will tell you that I learned my lesson. I will not make that mistake again.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7
On the drive down to the shore, my friend and I got into a conversation about grace. How sweet grace is. When you truly experience it, when you receive the gift of grace that God lavishly showers on us, you can’t help but want to live your life more fully for Him.
It was over 10 years ago, but I remember the day that God offered me that grace, and lifted the weight of my sin from my shoulders. I cried for like a week straight, because I felt so free. But my friends, I wish I could say that I received that grace, and took Him seriously when He said Go and sin no more. But I didn’t. I took the gift of freedom, and continued to live in my life of sin.
I did it banking on the “fact” that Jesus still loved me. I could do whatever I wanted.
But can you really do whatever you want…?
Can I tell you that the next time that I was confronted by my sin only a few months later, it wasn’t met with immediate freedom, but the truth that I pretended to be “free”, when I was still dead in my sin. I sang songs of His love, and goodness, and faithfulness, and grace. I held one hand up in praise, while clenching my sin with the other. It didn’t grieve me, I didn’t cry about it, and I wasn’t sorry.
It didn’t take long for me to be struck with the fact that you can’t pretend with God, and that sin wasn’t something to mess with, it was something to flee from.
You know, just like I will NEVER not put sunscreen on!
Grace is a gift.
Grace came at a cost, but I wasn’t treating it like that.
I treated His good grace like it was “plan b” for my life. A door prize that you threw away right when you got home. I would continually have the thoughts “He will love me even if I… (fill in the blank)”, “He will always be there even though I…(fill in the blank)”, “When I am ready to return to following Him, He will be there.”
I am so thankful that I don’t live in Old Testament days, because I am pretty sure that I would be in exile. Instead He meets me with breakfast on a beach.
Let’s look at John 21.
Some of the disciples were in a boat again. They had seen Jesus twice since He had risen from the grave. This time there was no storm. They had just gone with Peter fishing, but that night they caught nothing. When morning came Jesus was standing on the shore. Again they didn’t recognize Him as He instructed them cast their nets down on the right side of the boat. They did as they were told, and were unable to bring in the nets because of the large number of fish.
The disciple that Jesus loved told Peter, It is the Lord. Peter was so excited that he dove into the sea and swam to shore, with the other disciples following in the boat, lugging the net full of fish.
When they got to the shore they saw a fire with fish lying on it, and bread as well. Jesus had already provided for them, yet He invites them to bring the fish they caught (153, by the way, large fish that should have broken the net, but it didn’t), and then He took the bread and the fish and gave it to them.
They didn’t need to ask who He was because this time, they already knew.
When they finished, Jesus asks Peter Do you love me more than these? I can only imagine what was going through Peter’s mind at this point, because the last time he made a heart felt promise to Jesus, he denied Him 3 times.
“Do you love me more than these?”
It is like Jesus is saying to Peter, I know who you are, I know your past, I know you fear, I know you doubt, I know you don’t want to walk a path of uncertainty, but do you love me more than the things of this world that you can understand, the things that you can put your hands on, that you can taste? You didn’t even need to catch the fish, because I had everything you needed already waiting for you.
After his denial, Peter definitely didn’t deserve this. We don’t deserve this. But that is grace. Giving us what we don’t deserve. Umerited Favor. That is His response to us. His response to our heartfelt yes is going to be Go and feed my sheep, Go and sin no more, Your faith has healed you, Forget the things of this world and follow me.
Grace came at a high cost. The cost of a good Father, sending His only son, to live a sinless life, only to be hung on a cross to die for our sins, and then to rise again from the dead, meet us in our unbelief, our lack of faith, our denials that we even know Him, our sin, to ask us if we love Him, so that we can offer our two hands, receiving the grace He has lavishly poured out for us, through the blood of Jesus, for the forgiveness of our sin.
God thank you for your kindness and grace. Thank you that although we deserve the grave, you meet us with grace. May we never take that grace for granted. May we not praise you with one hand and hold onto our sin with the other. May we be willing to offer our two hands in thanksgiving for the grace we have received because of your Son, Jesus. It’s in His name we pray. Amen.