Grace Beyond Merit

So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.  But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Romans 11: 5-6

“Good Friday and Easter– the days of God’s overpowering acts in history, acts in which God’s judgment and grace were revealed to all the world– are just around the corner.  Judgment in those hours in which Jesus Christ, our Lord, hung on the cross: grace in that hour in which death was swallowed up in victory.  It was not human beings who accomplished anything here: no, God alone did it.  He came to human beings in infinite love.  He judged what is human.  And he granted grace beyond any merit.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Our dog Sam does barn chores with me, always has from his puppy beginnings.  He runs up and down the aisles as I fill buckets, throw hay, and he’ll explore the manure pile out back and the compost pile and have stand offs with the barn cats (which he always loses).  We have our routine.  When I get done with chores, I whistle for him and we head to the house.

Except this morning.  I whistled when I was done and his furry little fox face didn’t appear as usual.  I walked back through both barns calling his name, whistling, no signs of Sam.  I walked to the fields, I walked back to the dog yard, I walked the road (where he never ever goes), I scanned the pond (yikes), I went back to the barn and glanced inside every stall, I went in the hay barn where he likes to jump up and down on stacked bales, looking for a bale avalanche he might be trapped under, or a hole he couldn’t climb out of.  Nothing.

Then as I passed by, I heard a little faint scratching inside one of the horses’ stalls, which I had just glanced in 10 minutes before.  The horse was peacefully eating hay.  Sam was standing with his feet up against the door as if asking what took me so long.  He must have scooted in when I filled up the water bucket, and I closed the door not knowing he was inside.  It was dark enough that I didn’t see him when I checked.

There was not a whimper or a bark when I called for him as I walked past that stall at least 10 times looking for him– he was patiently waiting for me to open the door out of my love and concern for him and set him free —  there was nothing he could do but wait.

It’s a Good Friday.  The lost is found even if he never felt lost to begin with.

But he was lost to me.  And that is what matters.

He was waiting for the grace of a closed door to be opened.

Today that door has been thrown wide open.
~Emily Gibson


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