It happened so quickly! My husband and I were in a hotel gift shop–killing time really. While looking at some terra-cotta Christmas ornaments, one I barely touched tumbled to the tile-floor and smashed into pieces. We looked around for help, surely everyone in the shop heard the crash . . . but no one came. Dutifully, we looked at each other and started picking up the pieces one-by-one, before making our way to the sales counter.
When I showed the manager the pieces, I must confess that part of me hoped she would forgive the debt owed. She didn’t. Instead, she looked at me and the broken pieces and said, “It’s okay Ma’am, I’ll give you a discount . . . that will be $14.” My heart sank as I looked at my husband and said, “I’m sorry, Honey.” She looked me and asked, “Do you want this?” With tears threatening to spill, I started to say “no”–why would I want such a painful reminder? However, my husband interjected, “Yes, we will take it–I will put it back together.” So, she put the pieces into a clear ziploc baggie and we walked out of the shop.
It was quite a while before either of us spoke. Inwardly my thoughts seemed to go everywhere at once–embarrassed at breaking the ornament, upset that the store manager was not willing to forgive the debt . . . I could feel my cheeks getting hot as I struggled inwardly with a growing anger. Yet, in a flash my anger dissipated as I recognized my sinful and foolish attitude. Suddenly, these words flew through my mind like an electric banner:
“Kathie, you love the idea of grace but you have forgotten that, from start to finish, GRACE IS A GIFT!”
I felt silly and downright arrogant when I realized what I had done–demanding what can only be received as a gift! Two passages of Scripture came to mind. The first was David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. After being confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, David’s prayer reflects the kind of brokenness that pleases God in verse 17,
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
The second passage, written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to his friends in Ephesus (chapter 2, verses 4 and 5), boldly declares the wondrous love of God who, in His divine mercy, offers grace to all who repent of their spiritual brokenness:“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved.”
As we continued to walk, I found myself bubbling over with excitement at God’s kindness in extending this lesson to me. Suddenly, I was grateful that my husband had the broken pieces in his pocket and could hardly wait for him to glue the pieces back together. This Christmas that very special ornament will be hung on our tree with special care, tagged with a note for all to see: Grace is a Gift from start to finish!
All to His Glory!