Shock absorbers are wonderful things.
You would never know that they are there until they aren't, and you never appreciated them so much until you had the alternative.
Do you remember riding in your favorite Radio Flyer wagon as a kid? Let me take you back to that experience: you and a friend grab the metallic wagon and start heading up the colossal hill in the backyard (which was really only a rise in the pavement when you went back to visit last summer...they must've knocked it down since the last time you were there). You are forced into a shouting match all the way up the hill because the wagon is bouncing and chattering all the way along the rough asphalt driveway. There are likely a couple pebbles in the wagon from the time you were transporting your latest rock and dirt collection from the side yard to the backyard at your father's request and the remnant rock collection is only adding to the din. Once you reach the top of the slope, you both hop in the wagon and begin the clumsy lurching game to move the wagon slowly forward. You both sit in the wagon jittering along as the unforgiving plastic wheels locate the exact difference of each tarred rock and pebble. As the wagon gains momentum you begin to forget about the bumps and concentrate on survival--weaving around the big potholes in the ground and looking ahead for any oncoming traffic. Once you reach the bottom of the hill you both throw your feet out the sides and apply the emergency brake of human footwear to either side of the slowing vehicle. At the bottom you both collapse in a fit of breathless enjoyment.
Those beautiful pieces of spring and compression are doing their job beneath the car to ensure that every high speed bump and dip is met with the same smoothness as a freshly-paved banana cream pie. The tires are bumping up and down beneath the car while the passengers sit evenly in the cab, not noticing the altering changes in terrain.
For the most part we take shock absorbers for granted: we rarely notice that they are there doing their job until we attempt to drive through a bowling ball-sized crater in the middle of the street while traveling 45mph--then we DEFINITELY notice! We feel the whole car tug in the direction of the hole and we feel the impact of the tire against the far side of the asphalt wall. Rarely do we consider how bad that would have felt if the shocks were void altogether. Rarely do we consider altering our driving habits in order to preserve the shocks as they wear and tear.
And yet there are consequences of driving into potholes, however temporary. The shock absorbers still do their part to protect the integrity of the vehicle and preserve the comfort of the passengers, but they can't protect us from the bouncy ride that driving down a hole-ridden street initiates. They can't protect us from places in the road that haven't been cared for--from our own poor driving habits.
Grace....is very much like shock absorbers.
As spiritual children, we are simply unaware of the need for grace. We sail recklessly through life receiving the tough knocks along the way. We are both drained and exhilarated by the end of each day. If we have sense about what a good road is or isn't then we might do our best to avoid certain pitfalls but for the most part, we just cruise down the road anyway.
Then grace enters our ride and we realize that we are actually able to travel faster, farther, with more people when we have grace supporting our daily drive, than we were able to do with our little red wagon of a life before. Grace supports us over daily little things and gives us comfort in spite of the road we choose to travel on. Don't get me wrong, there are still consequences to choosing to drive over certain bumps in the road--shocks aren't designed to avoid potholes, but instead to forgive them. Grace gives us the forgiveness in our commute that when we do make a mistake, we know that we will still be moving forward.
If we care for grace and understand that we should honor it, we would alter our driving habits. Avoid the potholes to begin with, don't seek out speed bumps at high rates of speed, choose roads that are better paved rather than rough courses.
Grace is designed as an integral part of the vehicle. Ever since Adam and Eve fell out of the first wagon, God has had a plan in place that involved rubber tires and shock absorbers to meet our clumsy driving habits. Grace supports us and sustains us. We need it every time we go out. We need it in all types of terrain, from smooth asphalt to gravel drives. We all need grace and we all rely on it every day. Whether you live a life riddled in sin and spend your days constantly swerving away from one pothole right into the next one, or whether you study the road ahead cautiously and avoid the large pitfalls of life--you still need grace to get you over the daily thing called sin.
We didn't design it, but we were part of the design of it.
We can't live to earn it, and we can't live without it.
And now....some more studying of what deserves grace and what all grace covers. I'll be back in a bit with a challenging post about what I think grace does for us on a regular basis in a very practical way.
In the meantime, Katie's Mother's Day and Birthday Presents came in today. I wonder if I will be able to wait until either holiday before giving them to her...probably not.