I know - two posts in one day, but I have to share the lesson I learned from the sermon I heard in church on Sabbath.
The story is told of two gentlemen from Rhode Island who visit Georgia for the very first time. They come to Atlanta to attend a business meeting and as they get up in the morning, they decide to go to a local restaurant and order breakfast. After perusing the menu, they decide to order chicken fried steak, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. The waitress takes their order and within minutes comes back to the table with chicken fried steak, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee...and a bowl of white, creamy stuff with a big ole pat of butter swimming in the middle. Well, these two gentlemen from Rhode Island who have never been to Georgia before turn to the waitress and say, "Ma'am, what is that? We ordered chicken fried steak, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee." And the waitress says, "Well, sirs, them's grits." "Grits?! We don't want any grits. We didn't order 'em, we don't want 'em, and we will not pay for them." "Well sirs, you in the South now and you don't have to order 'em, you don't have to want 'em and you don't have to pay for 'em - but you gets 'em with your meal."
Grits are sort of like grace, which is defined as "unmerited favor". We didn't ask for it, we surely don't deserve it, we may not even want it - but with Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, we all get it. We are all given the gift of grace.
The pastor went on and gave another example - one we all have probably experienced...the speeding ticket that you deserved but didn't get because the police officer showed mercy and grace. When I went to visit my cousin Kelly and her family in Washington DC for the 4th of July holiday, I experienced this. I was headed back to the airport to catch my flight back to Atlanta and I pulled off the highway to get Starbucks and gas so I could return the rental car with a full tank of gas. Not familiar with the area, I was ZOOMING down this windy road when I saw the cop sitting off to the right. Yeah, I was busted BIG TIME! He pulled me over (into a gas station) and you know the drill: "Miss, do you know why I pulled you over?" "Yes, sir." "You were doing 45 in a 25 zone...I'll be back." Well, I got on the phone and was complaining to my mother, "You will not believe what is happening to me...I cannot believe I got pulled over...I don't even know this area, I didn't see a sign..." (you know the drill.) Anyway, I'd just said to my mother, "Well, he's coming back to ruin my day" when the officer (who overheard me say that) said, "No. I see from the registration papers in the car that you are visiting the area, so I am just going to give you a warning. Be safe and have a good flight back to Georgia." GRACE!!!
Three things immediately happen when you are given grace like that: 1) you immediately fall under the law. You best believe I did not go above 25 mph until I got on the expressway and then I stayed within the speed limit until I got back to the car rental plaza at BWI Airport; 2) you immediately feel joy; and 3) you cannot wait to tell somebody about how you were delivered. That is the way we, as Christians, should be when we experience the joy of salvation and the receive the gift of grace from the Lord.
So whether you like the grits story or the speeding ticket story as an illustration of God's love and grace - I hope you will experience the joy of grace for yourself and that you will share it with others whenever, however you can.