"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace
Writing an advent study in August can be tough, but one of the positives is I’ll have completely forgotten it by the time I reread it at
Christmas. For this devotion, I want us to focus on what I believe to be our greatest gift - grace. The concept of unmerited grace is
often lost in platitudes and taken for granted but step back and reflect as we prepare our hearts for celebrating the arrival of our Lord.
I have often compared grace to the gimme putt. Let me explain. I sometimes play golf with David Milam, who keeps a USGA rule
book in his bag. We place small bets to keep things interesting. There is no “foot wedge” with David. You play the ball as it lies,
wherever it lies, and you take a penalty if you are outside the red stake, or if you have to move a tree branch to swing, or, well you get
the point. He’s a lawyer, so it’s appropriate that it’s like trying to play golf following the Old Testament law. Still, every once in a
while, if I’m on the green and pretty close to the hole, he’ll tell me “that’s good”. It doesn’t matter if the ball goes in or not, the putt
counts as made, but the fact that I know it’s good gives me a bit more confidence to actually knock it in if I decide to address the ball.
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
After I wrote that out, I don’t think it goes far enough. I still have to get off the tee and to the green on my own, and I still have to
get close to the hole for a final very close shot to count whether I make it or not. Apparently I’ve been using a bad analogy all along.
Perhaps a better analogy is that of a scramble. For you non-golfers, a scramble is a tournament where 2-4 people play on one team
and on every shot you play the best ball. So maybe grace is better described as playing golf, tee to green, holes 1-19, with PGA
professionals. You’re out there making an effort, trying to contribute, embarrassed when you fail, but still shooting the best round of
your life thanks to the efforts of someone else. I like that analogy better.
"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now
the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the
righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
No matter how you wrap your mind around grace, let’s all try to show graciousness to others this season. PLEASE NOTE I AM
TERRIBLE AT THIS. I’m committing to show God’s grace to others in ways I will dread, but ultimately be grateful that I did. This
week I will back off of someone in an overloaded golf cart doing 5 mph down 30a as I try to get to or from my office. This week I will
congratulate an Alabama fan on their thus far undefeated season and do my best to mean it. This week I will tell Lauren to go take a
long bath and enjoy a glass of wine while I watch the kids and not interrupt her once. This week I’m going to do my best to show a
small sliver of the graciousness afforded me. It’s a simple as the second great commandment, that we love one another.
Griggs, my 6 year old, often wants to contribute. For example, he will get a quarter out of his piggy bank and ask to buy a movie. Of
course that goes nowhere to covering the cost, but he’s doing his best to show his appreciation and contribute. It means nothing in
the grand scheme of things, but by doing so he’s showing his heart is in the right place and his heart moves mine. Griggs’ example is
much like when we pass on grace to others. It doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things and it isn’t going to shorten a war,
but it shows our heart is in the right place and means much to the recipient.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this
all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Mark Poston, my sister’s mentor, wrote her a letter when she graduated from vet school and went out on to her own as a new doctor.
It hangs in my office today. I won’t do it justice unless I quote it directly.
"Dear Tammy (excuse me, Dr. Justiss),
I guess this is the part where the mentor gets all the warm and fuzzy sentiments, and tries to convey in a few words some pearls of
wisdom that will help the fledgling to navigate carefully all of life’s waters; sorry but I just don’t know very many things for sure.
About two thousand years ago a very great man named Jesus Christ said “Love one another”. To that, I have nothing significant to
Love one another. To that, I have nothing significant to add.