Pinto Beans and Breakable Things
September 19, 2014
By Laura DiFatta
Once upon a time it was almost Christmas… and I was not done shopping! OK, so that’s not so unusual, but there was one Christmas shopping experience I won’t soon forget. I had a long list of girl gifts to buy and so I had to go to a girl gift place. On this particular shopping trip, I had company in the form of an exuberantly energetic and curious, two-year-old, Trent.
I didn’t have a grand plan for where to go, so—needing to group my afternoon errands as efficiently as possible—I went to 18th street in Homewood because of it’s many shops in close proximity and for inspiration. A certain store front caught my eye right away with it’s beautiful window decorations. I was hooked. I parked the car and Trent and I headed in.
Right away, I was happy (great girl gift place!) and nervous (lots of things for little hands to touch and break!) I began to look, searching for those just-right gifts and at the same time vigilantly watching Trent.
One of the little-known facts about Trent is that he LOVES to smell candles! This particular store had lots and lots of glass-encased candles. But, much to my relief and working in my favor, this particular store had lots and lots of things displayed on top of heaps of beans! Every shelf had a basket of beans with trinkets, necklaces, earrings and such lying on top. Trent was delighted! His chubby little hands were busy with the beans and I was close by busily shopping—one eye on him and one eye on the prospective Christmas gifts.
While we shopped, one and then another of the store clerks would comment on Trent playing in the beans and we would chuckle about how it’s often the simple things that delight little ones. After a little while, I had made my choices, the gifts had been wrapped and we were about to leave the store with everyone happy when… CRASH! You guessed it: the little dude saw his chance—while I was saying my “thank-yous” and “goodbyes,”—and seized the moment. In a blink, he picked up a beautiful, delicious-smelling and, might I add, expensive candle and dropped it. I looked over to see his mouth primped up and his eyes big. He said, “Uh, oh!” in a sad little voice. I was so embarrassed!
Of course the candle was beyond salvaging. I began apologizing profusely and offered to pay for it. (I’ve always assumed the “you break it, you buy it” policy is in effect). The store clerks were so kind and told me that I would not have to pay for it.
I thanked them and quickly took Trent by the hand and led him out of the store and across the street to the car. I was sad to have caused them any trouble. They had been so helpful and what do they get? A big mess. As I was cranking the car and asking myself, “why did I let that happen? I had let my guard down for a split second! Ugh!” when I heard a knock on my car window. It was a lady who worked at the store where we had just left a pile of broken glass and a wasted, expensive candle. In a flash, the question popped in my head: “Did the boss hear about the accident and send her out to tell me I did need to pay for the candle?” Before I could even get the car door opened, she lifted up…a large bag of beans! She had brought Trent a bag of beans just like the beans that he had been playing with in the store! I got out of the car took the beans, thanked her, hugged her neck and she quickly went back into the store. I felt the lump in my throat and the tears well up and overflow. That was abundantly kind. She had shown me grace. Unmerited favor.
In the last couple of years I have understood freshly the fact that God doesn’t love me because of my moral record or because I’ve been more good than bad (which I haven’t) or because I deserved it. In fact, He sent Jesus because I never would deserve His favor on my own. But, He loved me then and He loves me now because He is love and I am His creation. Because of the faith He gave me to believe His Son is Who He says He is, I am forever His forgiven and restored child. My standing and relationship with Him is settled. Just like Trent’s position as my son was in no way negatively affected by his candle-crashing, my disobedience in no way dislodges me from my position as God’s child.
My life was a CRASH, just like that candle Trent broke! God’s grace covered it. All the while I was still trying to gain his approval through my “goodness,” His grace said I already had it through His Son. My brokenness makes me aware of my need for His grace. His lavish grace in the face of my brokenness makes me more amazed at His grace!
“From all the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16
Before you or I were cleaned up or deserving or even a bit mindful of God, His perfect Son Jesus showed us grace. He died for us so that we could have life. The enormity of that act of grace motivated by love cannot be overstated. It’s implications are powerful for you and for me and for the entirety of humanity. The ripple effects of that Grace are felt and lived out daily for those who choose to stake their life focus and identity on its Source.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6,8
Won’t you spend some time today and every day reflecting on the fact that while you were a big mess, Jesus loved you anyway? Won’t you spend some time thanking God for the fact that Jesus loves you in spite of your mess today and that He loves you enough to never, ever give up on you, His beloved child?
Oh, the measureless grace that rescued us!
Oh the boundless grace that completes us!
Oh, the fathomless grace that frees us!
Oh, the matchless grace that breathes new life in our dead places and lifts us up to walk in freedom!
The grace that we’ve been shown by God is the same grace that the Holy Spirit minsters to us as we are called to be kind to those who are unkind to us, even to those who hate us. That’s hard. Sometimes, it seems impossible. But, taking our focus to how much we’ve been given through none of our own merit, and recognizing that we have to depend on God’s provision for that Holy kind of work, are the crucial elements. We are practicing being the New Creations God made us upon our profession of faith in His Son.
Understanding that we are the objects of such lavish grace as shown us by our Rescuer-Savior is a game-changer. Remembering and celebrating this grace daily informs our thought lives and impacts each of our relationships. It can and should be a theme of our daily lives!
This kind of grace shows, in fact, it shines!
If grace is a by-word to you, if it is a word that elicits no thoughts of Christ or does not resonate with gratitude in your heart, will you ask Him every day to make the understanding of His great grace fresh to your mind, soul and heart? Will you ask Him to peel away every layer, light up every corner, break down every barrier that may stand in the way of the understanding and experience of this great Grace? You can be sure, He will answer a prayer like that with “Yes!”
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.” Galatians 2:21
“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.” Ephesians 1:7-8
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17b