When I got "grace" as my word for 2017, I had no clue just how much grace I would be given in such a short amount of time. I don't think I've ever read God's word with such intention. Not during a crisis, not during an emotional meltdown, and not for any homework for any study I've ever completed. But this word, there was this voice inside me that kept saying, "This is really important and as much as you can understand this, I need you to get this." And that has been my prayer. With human, and female limitations of emotional perspective, my main goal for 2017 is to understand what grace is as much as I can.
In Genesis 3, the spot where Adam and Eve seriously blew it for the rest of us, the evidence of God's grace is overwhelming.
Exhibit A: God told Adam which tree not to eat from. He didn't wait for him to eat it and make the game show loser buzzer noise.
Exhibit B: God gave other, and plentiful, options to maximize the opportunity he would have to be successful. "You may eat from any other tree......"
Exhibit C: God knew the serpent would successfully tempt/deceive/trick Eve and had his response prepared in advance, giving them a path of restoration, not eternal condemnation.
Exhibit D: God allowed Adam and Eve to see the chains linked and forged in their choices. Adam for not communicating clearly, Eve for not double checking with Adam, Eve for giving Adam what she shouldn't have had in the first place. Just the ability to reflect on their decisions, as bad as they were, it gives them the chance to avoid them in the future and choose a better path.
Exhibit E: God would send Jesus to earth to crush the head of the serpent thus giving the ultimate path to restoration. Now, this is not stated in Scripture, but as I read the verse about what Jesus would do to the serpent, something struck me. The danger of a serpent is in its venom and that comes through the head and exits by the mouth. Without his words of accusation or seeds of doubt, Satan is not nearly as destructive. It just seems to me that a correlation between this and James 3:8 that says our mouths are full of deadly poison can be drawn.
Exhibit F: God removed Adam and Eve from the garden so that in the future they could enter back in through His grace.
From my perspective, God gives us boundaries and instructions for our benefit that we should accept, listen to, and not add to it. But do we?
We take what He gives us and put on expectations of perfection that just aren't there. We ignore clear directions that were put in place to keep us safe, produce a harvest of righteousness, help us lead fruitful lives, and fill us with joy. We don't write down what He stirs in our hearts as personal convictions so that we can truly follow Him and what He's asked us to do. We want more when we already have enough, we are not content with admiring what we don't have, and we twist what God intended for good and make it evil. All of this forces me at ask why on earth He ever puts up with us! And the only answers I can come up with are that His great desire has always been to be with us and He is willing to extend us a ridiculous amount of grace to do it.