“A perfect gift is not easy.” my husband, Mike, told me this over and over again the past 2 days. And how true the words are. I began to prepare a gift for a dear friend last Sunday. I thought it would have been finished by Tuesday. But I was wrong. The hours that this took, were filled with joy, mixed with a little fear here and there that it would end up a big mess.
There were times I wanted to quit because I mean, how good could this really come out?
The gift was a painting of my friend’s beloved dog, who had to be put down a few weeks ago. I was with her when it happened, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever witnessed in my life.
I ordered an adult paint by number set, that would be a painting of him when he was younger.
Perfect gifts are hard.
I had never done anything like this, and didn’t understand the intricacy of the gift. Each stroke of the brush was done with prayer, gratitude, and an immense amount of love. And with every stroke, I was reminded of Psalm 139: 13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”
The word knit holds an intricacy and care to it (like you would knit a complex tapestry), that made me amazed at how much care God must have placed into creating us… if this gift was so time consuming and joyful, how much more is that true of God when He knit us together.
To keep a long story short…
This gift at times felt like a mountain, or a race. Or maybe a race where the finish line was at the top of a mountain. And when it was done, and it was wrapped, there was a part of me that was scared to give it to her. It felt like such a transparent and vulnerable gift, so a part of me wanted to hold on to it.
But it was a perfect gift. And yes it got hard, but then I think of Ephesians, and how it says it gave God pleasure to lavish His grace on us, as a perfect gift, by giving up His son. I understand that on a small scale right now better than I ever have.
Good things are often hard.
I remember the day I realized how precious grace is. It has been 15-16 years now that I returned to our good Father. He never left me, I always knew that, I just chose to not walk with Him. Even though it has been so long I remember the day I knew beyond a doubt that I was forgiven for the ways I had deviated from truth, because of the gift of grace.
I lived my life knowing that God would always be there when I was ready to return to Him. But I lived my life for me. There were good times, but the way I lived my live eventually took its toll.
How Precious This Perfect Gift Felt…
I remember the day I realized I felt like I was existing and not living. When I recognized it, I also had the desire to not feel like that anymore. I wanted to feel alive again, and I wanted my life to have purpose. The only place I knew where to turn was the church. The church.
However, although I started going back church, I still felt weighed down not only by my sin, but also by the guilt of it. I was surrounded by people who had lived their whole life for God. Sharp contrast to the girl who had done her own thing for so many years.I remember how freeing grace felt the moment I was freed from my sin, and made alive in Christ. I remember the day God took the weight of all of that off my shoulders.
How Precious Grace Is…
We have been reading Ephesians, and as we have been reading I have been reminded that Paul’s words are for us too. Because his words are our story, as God’s chosen. Once we were lost, now we are found. We were strangers, now we are fully known. And this is such a beautiful thing.
I mentioned it before, but here is a snippet of Ephesians chapter 1!
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:4-10
These verses perfectly captures our identity because of His love for us. Holy. Blameless. Redeemed. Predestined. Adopted. Chosen. Forgiven. Purposed. Loved. I hope that as you read these words, you remember the first time you experienced His grace, when you realized how precious it is. The moment you knew you were forgiven, or one of the first times you recognized His love for you. Or when you knew that God’s word was for you too.
Despite what He knows about us and all the ways we have fallen short, He still lavishes His grace on us. It was freely given to us through Jesus, and it gave God pleasure to do so… even though in order for us to have this gift, His loved son Jesus had to suffer the punishment for our sin.
God had to give His son up, for our freedom. His loved Son, His only Son.
Even as hard as the gift of grace was to give, God still had pleasure doing so.
It is good to remember the depth of that. So underserved, yet so freely given, because we are deeply loved. So many times I look forward, and am thankful for what God has done recently or is doing currently. But I don’t look far enough back to the day I was forgiven, and set free from the weight of my sin. I knew I was forgiven in that moment because I knew with everything in me that God loved me.
Amazing Grace, the perfect gift from God.
The lyrics of Amazing Grace put it perfectly. “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”
Those lyrics are my story. Because if I can feel unworthy of His love now, that unworthiness felt that much more distance from His grace and love before I recommitted my life to Him.
Grace is a perfect gift. It is a gift from God. Let us freely continue to receive it, no matter how unworthy we feel. Because He loves us and it is lavished on us, not because we have done anything to deserve it, except to believe that what He says is true.