Sweet, Sticky Grace

I shouldn’t have even tried it, but I did. No need to bother my grandmother when I could do it all by myself. My young little eyes barely could see over the kitchen table, but all I needed to do was pour milk from a carton into a glass, add a little Ovaltine (chocolate syrup), and stir it with a spoon. Easy peasy, right? 

Shaky little hands lifted the cardboard carton and poured the milk into the tall glass. “Whew! I did it! Pouring chocolate syrup will be easy.” 

Unfortunately, my success with the milk provided the smidge of swag that took my eyes off the glass. Onto the table went the chocolate syrup – enough to make tastier 10 full glasses of milk! As I stood looking at the mess, the pile of syrup slowly oozed into a circle the size of Texas.  

I had no idea how to even begin cleaning up such a mess; so, I did the only thing I knew to do. I ran and pretended it never happened. 

I only ran to the other room; far enough that I thought I could appear innocent, but close enough to see and hear how my grandmother reacted to the discovery. I felt sure I’d be in a heap of trouble. Yet, to my surprise, “Oh!”, was all she said. Unfazed, she grabbed a dishcloth, ran it under the water, and began wiping up the thick dark syrup. Again and again, she rinsed the cloth and wiped until all the syrup disappeared down the drain. She didn’t scold, didn’t punish. She knew it was a mistake, and she knew I was embarrassed. 

All these many years later, I can still feel the embarrassment and frustration of that day. I was helpless in knowing how to clean up such a mess, but one thing I knew for certain: I hated the thought of my grandmother being unhappy with me. What a life lesson and relief to experience such grace! Not only did she forgive me, but she mixed up a fresh glass of chocolate milk for me. 

Without Jesus, we find ourselves in a messy situation. Sin oozes through our lives whether we want it to or not. It keeps us separated from God. But Jesus looked down at all of us and agreed to be the One to spill His blood in order to clean us up once and for all. Jesus wipes away our every sin and washes them all down the drain. “And by his one perfect sacrifice he made us perfectly holy and complete for all time!” (Hebrews 10:14, TPT) Putting our faith in Jesus and allowing His Spirit to lead us delivers the grace needed to accept the love of God. 

Since many of us have been in a right relationship with God for a while, we know all of that. So, why do we continue to beat ourselves up when we make a mess of things? Why do we try to hide and pretend it never happened? Why is it so hard to say, “I’m sorry”, and why do we make asking for help our last resort?

For me, it’s been a pride thing. But I doubt any of us readily enjoy admitting our mistakes. We’d rather hide for a while until we can figure out how to clean things up on our own. Messes have a way of oozing to the size of Texas if given too long to sit. It’s never good to ignore our need for help or minimize God’s willingness to help. You may not feel like your life matters one whit, but you matter to Him. If you must hide, hide yourself in Him where it’s safe.

The grace that brought you and me into a relationship with God is the same sweet, sticky grace that continues to cleanse us every day. When you stubbornly ruminate on things that bring you down, grace sticks. When you use harsh words to a friend or family member, grace sticks. When you lack self-discipline or wear a bad attitude, yep, grace sticks. When your pride causes you to refuse correction or wise counsel, grace sticks. When you do or think those things you know you shouldn’t, yes, grace even sticks then too. The same grace that saved us is the grace that sustains us.

Jesus stands ready to wipe our messes up again and again and wash them down the drain. That’s not permission to keep on making messes, it’s the reason not to! “[It’s grace that] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:12, NIV) We know we can’t do it on our own, so we allow God to fill us to the brim with the milk of His word. Then, Jesus adds the sticky sweetness of grace, and the Holy Spirit stirs up a fire within us. The more we drink in that the Lord is good, the tastier a grace-filled life seems to the world. 

“Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God. 
Experience for yourself the joyous mercies He gives
to all who turn to hide themselves in Him.”

Psalm 34:8, TPT

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Donna Jackson

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