Monday, December 3, 2012

Good Grace

I don't know about y'all, but this time of year I struggle with balance. I have a hard time not letting thoughts of Christmas music, buying gifts, and traditions crowd my mind...especially having Emerson this year. I want her to know the magic of Christmas, but to really know that is it all about the birth of our Savior. To prepare my own heart this year, I started the Advent plan with SheReadsTruth. I'm already loving it!!! Even though I am no Bible scholar, I wanted to share something I got out of it yesterday.

In case you don't know much about the Advent (I didn't!), it is a way of preparing for the arrival of Jesus. You begin the 4th Sunday before Christmas. Most families I know do little treats or acts of service each day. There's lots of Advent calendars and stuff out there if you're interested in that. SheReadsTruth began the countdown to Jesus' birthday with the simple thought that we are in great need of a Savior.

They began where sin enters the world. Adam and Eve, in the garden, eating the forbidden fruit. Most of us know how the story goes. I want to point out something that comes after that famous little snack.

So here is Genesis 3:8-24 (You need the whole thing for context, but focus on v. 21.)

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[a] and hers;
he will crush[b] your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”
20 Adam[c] named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living.
21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

So...Adam and Eve sin. God comes to the garden and realizes they've sinned. Tells them of their consequences, and then...HE CLOTHES THEM. I've never even noticed this verse before. Even in their sin---the sin that started it all---the sin that brought about our very need for Jesus to suffer and die on a cross---He loved them. He loved them enough to not leave them naked or with some stitched together fig leaves. He loved them enough to MAKE them garments that would protect them from the environment. Do you catch that??? Here are Adam and Eve who have just blown His perfect will for them, and He doesn't kill them. He makes clothes for them. Even in their sin, He loves them dearly. He doesn't make them figure out how to protect themselves from the cold and from the sun. He loves them enough to provide for them.

We are Adam and Eve. Even in our sin, no matter how great it is, He loves us. He refuses to leave us how we are...stuck in our nakedness, exposed to the world.

The further I get into this journey of parenthood, the more I realize how God is really like the ultimate parent. When we had to take Emerson to the ER for pneumonia, they had to do all kinds of horrific tests to her. Let me tell you, holding down your 5 month old while they dig a needle around in her arm and worse, is not the easiest thing to endure. I cried as hard as she did! The whole time my heart was breaking because there was so much pain for my baby girl, but deep down I knew it was for her good. They had to do those things to find out she had pneumonia. They had to do those things to know how to heal her.

Sometimes God takes us through things that hurt. We cry and scream, but the truth is, He cries and screams with us. Proverbs 3:12 says He disciplines us because He loves us. He takes us through hard places because He loves us. Just like our parents let us fail and make mistakes, and we will do the same for our kids. We do it so that they may learn to be independent and capable, but we will never leave them or forsake them. There is NOTHING Emerson can do or be that would make me stop loving her. It is impossible. Will she aggravate me at times? Will I be disappointed in her at times? Will I have to hand down tough consequences at times? Of course. But nothing will ever put an end to my love for her.

We have that same promise from the Creator of it all. He will never leave us or forsake us.  His love for you will never, ever end. Nothing you do and nothing you are or can be, will ever be too much for Him. He forgave the very people who brought sin into this world. Yes, they had consequences and so do we, but He does it because He loves us. He wants us to learn that He is the only answer. All we need is Him. If we let Him, after our sin is brought into the open (like He discovered Adam and Eve in the garden), He will make us clothes of our own. Clothes of grace and mercy.

I'm praying that each person that reads this will be drawn a little closer to Him today...not by my little words or thoughts, but simply because He loves you dearly. Accept it. Let Him love you and clothe you.

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