Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. —2 Tim. 2:1, NIV
You’ll be changed from the inside out … God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. —Rom. 12:2, MSG
Though the work of Christ is finished for the sinner, it is not yet finished in the sinner. —Donald G. Bloesch
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us. —Anne Lamott
More verb than noun, more present tense than past tense, grace didn’t just happen; it happens.
Ten-year-olds take Christmas gifts very seriously. At least we did in Mrs. Griffin’s fourth-grade class.
The holiday gift exchange outranked the presidential election, NFL draft and Fourth of July parade. We knew the procedure well. On the day preceding Thanksgiving break, Mrs. Griffin would write each of our names on a piece of paper, dump the slips of paper into a baseball cap and shake them up. One by one we stepped up to her desk and withdrew the name of the person to whom we would give a gift.
Under the Geneva Convention’s Law of Gift Exchange, we were instructed to keep our beneficiary’s identity a secret. Name disclosure was not permitted. We told no one for whom we were shopping.
But we told everyone what we were wanting. How else would they know? We dropped hints like the Canadian winter drops snow, everywhere and every day. I made certain each classmate knew what I wanted: a Sixfinger.
In 1965, all red-blooded American boys wanted a Sixfinger.
We knew the slogan by heart: “Sixfinger, Sixfinger, man alive! How did I ever get along with five?” The Sixfinger was more than a toy. Yes sirree, Bob. It could fire off a cap bomb, message missile, secret bullet and SOS signal. Why, it even had a hidden ballpoint pen.
Who could live without a Sixfinger? I couldn’t. And I made certain the other 12 students in Mrs. Griffin’s class knew it.
But Carol wasn’t listening. Little Carol with the pigtails, freckles and shiny black shoes.
Don’t let her sweet appearance fool you. She broke my heart. For on the day of the great gift exchange, I ripped the wrapping paper off my box to find only stationery.
You read the word correctly. Stationery! Brown envelopes with folded note cards that bore a picture of a cowboy lassoing a horse. What 10-year-old boy uses stationery?
There is a term for this type of gift: obligatory. The required-to-give gift. The “Oops, I almost forgot to get something” gift.