By Frank Friedmann
I am not much for Christian cliché, pat answers, and overly simplistic offers of encouragement to my many questions as I journey through a dark and often desperate world. About a year ago though, Janet came home from a flea market quite proud of herself. She had bought me a plaque with a curt Christian phrase on it. As she explained what she had done, I must admit I was not thinking very thankfully toward her gift, until I saw what it said.
“GRACE SAT DOWN WITH ME, UNTIL I COULD WALK AGAIN”
I was stunned! As I reflected on the power of those words, and Janet’s own words that the creator of this plaque was not a believer, did not know why she had made it, and that she only made one of them. Janet shared with me that her conviction that the Holy Spirit had that lady create it just for me!
Powerful, isn’t it? Especially for someone like me who falls down a lot! When I ponder that phrase, there is a verse that comes to my heart from Isaiah 42. I know you know it well!
It tells us that God will NEVER cast off a bruised reed, or a dimly burning wick. In the ancient world, people would make flutes out of reeds. But in the process of cutting out the holes in the reed for the air to escape, they would often break or bruise the reed, and knowing it would never play properly, they would just throw it away and start with another one. After all, there was an abundance of reeds available.
In the same vein, the ancients used oil for lamps and would put a wick in the oil, and that would provide light for the lamp. When the wick burned down and was no longer providing light, they would just throw away the wick and get another one. After all, they were very inexpensive and there were lots of them available.
That is exactly how many people feel who have grown weary in their journey through this dark and desperate world. Perhaps they have fallen into sin or difficult circumstances and their light is not shining very well, nor are their lives playing beautiful music. They have sat down, exhausted and overwhelmed. Humanity at that point, especially religious humanity, very often has nothing to do with such people. At best they have no time for such people, or worse, they simply do not care!
Not so with God. He says He will NEVER cast us off or throw us away. He, GRACE, will sit down with us until we can walk again. Later in Isaiah, He will tell us that He has engraved our name on His hand and will NEVER forget us. God NEVER sees us as useless, no matter how weary we are, no matter how badly we have failed. By providing us with His Life, He tells us that our lives will make beautiful music once again, and our light will once again shine in the darkness of this world. This is what He promises to do for us. Wonderful!
As wonderful as that is however, it is not enough. Because He lives in us and expresses Himself through us, we too are to communicate this incredible grace to others, especially those who have grown weary and fallen down.
I find it compelling, that the motive for many of the miracles Jesus did, was compassion. Compassion is a HUGE word. It defines the spirit that is not content to feel for someone who hurts, but the compulsion to do something about it. In this world that is filled with so many bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks, we need to be known not only by our understanding of grace, but its application. As Grace (Jesus) sat down with us, may we sit down with them, until they can walk again.
Frank is Teaching Pastor at Grace Life Fellowship in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and communicates through his ministry, Our Resolute Hope.