Grace in Ephesians

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  Eph 1:3-6

A reminder of the importance of Scripture memorization spurred me to begin ruminating on Ephesians as November began.  Excited as I was, I was sure it would be a simple task to take these words to heart and bring them back out at will, to be looked at like so many gleaming jewels.  Words . . . I’m good with words.  Comfortable with words.  And the Words in this Book are such life to me.  Surely it will be easy. . .

Why, then, do I find myself bogged down, right here at the beginning?

Not the “Paul, an apostle” beginning.  That’s no problem.  It’s when I get to the meat of it, right about the fourth verse, that I find myself lost.  I look at the words, read them over and over, mumble them under my breath three, four, ten times. 

The next day, they’re gone.

Somewhere in the “He chose us in Him” part, my brain turns to fuzz and the words blur and I hear Charlie Brown’s mother.  Because why would anyone choose me?  Me, broken, not-enough-yet-somehow-always-too-much me; the me who no one else seemed to want, especially the ones it should have come easy for . . .

He chose us in Him.

Chose me, the me with the crooked nose and the dishwater-blonde hair and the smile that wasn’t quite right (“so keep your lips closed when you smile,” my father used to say on school picture day) and the clothes that were never expensive or stylish enough to suit the cool kids.  Chose me, the last one picked for the team in gym, the one who longed to be beautiful and wanted and loved, whose dreams were always a bit too far out of reach.

And somehow, I do know He chose me.  Because I remember the choosing; remember Him coming to me and beckoning and holding open arms outstretched wide; remember the “Yes!” in my soul when I knew the Christmas story was for me and Easter too and He loved me.

Sometimes the distance from head to heart is a long, long road.

The next part throws me, too . . .

In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself . . .

Why?  I’d already been adopted once, apparently (so at one point I was wanted; when did the wanting me part end, and more importantly, why?) but being adopted by God, the Sovereign Ruler of heaven and earth, is surely another story entirely.  Slowly, I’m digesting another book, a gift from my dear mother-in-law, about God’s grace; about His lavish love poured out on us, love that has already forgiven every sin we’ll ever commit, love that knows it all from the beginning and loves just the same.

Loves even when I stomp my foot and raise my voice when someone wants one more thing and throw my cell phone across the room when no one’s looking.

Loves me when bitterness doesn’t want to forgive and anger wants to lash out and revenge feels sweeter than grace.

I don’t get it, and wonder if I ever will. 

In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved.

“The kind intention of His will . . . His grace, which He freely bestowed . . . ”

Grace sure isn’t freely bestowed very often in our world, is it?  Pull into the parking space someone else was waiting for and you’ll get a good dose of something, and it’s not gonna be grace.  Grace, according to the 1913 Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “the exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.”  God bestows grace freely because He has unlimited resources of it.  Us?  Mmm, not so much.

So tonight, I turn back to the words of Ephesians 1:4-6.  No running ahead; schedule or no, I’ve got to take these words in.  Therein lies my only hope of becoming more like Him; if I eat the bread He offers, perhaps the seeds will take root and His life will manifest itself in my own the way it should, will nourish the hearts of the precious souls He’s put into my life, and perhaps it won’t be so hard for them because the words will make sense because they’ve watched them lived.

No, no rushing on.  I’ll stop here.  I’ll lie down in this green pasture as He bids, and chew on the Words of Life He’s offering, the ones He’s inviting me to not only memorize, but believe . . .

(a sunset my 2nd ds was blessed to see in Papua, New Guinea last summer)

Grace to you, and peace.

holy experience

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