Friday, March 6, 2015

Grace and Peace

It is the third time I walk up the stairs to her room in fifteen minutes. 

The first had been a triple whammy that took me off guard in about two or three seconds—smacking my face, quickly followed by grabbing the glasses off of my face in anger and putting her foot into the potty (which was fortunately empty)—just as we were about to pull up her pants. 

The second time I came up the stairs, I sat with her discussing what had just happened.  After she owned that she smacked her mother, pulled the glasses from my face and put her foot in the potty, she once again pulled off my glasses.  She was no longer angry; but, the attempt at a mini-practice of asking me to take my glasses off, did not go well.

Now, as I enter her room, I find my Little Love quiet after a few minutes of screaming protest at being returned to her crib.  She looks up at me and reaches.  “Hold-y,” she cries out.

I scoop her up in my arms and carry her to the nearby recliner.  “Let’s talk,” I reply seriously.

“Did you grab the glasses off of mama’s face?”  I ask her.

“Yes!” she admits, enthusiastically.  I am pleased with her honesty and also a little amused at the way her tone doesn’t seem to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with her behavior.  We are learning around here, for sure.

We talk about the way we ask mama to take glasses off to look at the eyes hiding behind them.  We do not rip them from mama’s face.  We practice once again. 

I say, “Can you ask mama to take off her glasses?” 

She says, “Please.”   The way she uses the word is often more of a statement.  It is given that the glasses are indeed what she is interested in and she adds her polite “please” so she can proceed with the fun as soon as possible.

I take off my glasses and we commence the game that she often asks to play—me winking, blinking and batting my eyes at her.  After a few minutes, I stop and thank her for asking me to take off the glasses instead of grabbing them off my face.  I tell her I love her. 

She looks at me and says, “Grace and peace, Mama.”

These are the words that we share before she goes to bed at night, “Grace and peace from God to you, the grace and peace of Jesus.”  I stare back at her and wonder how she knows to use them now.  Has she overheard Jason and I using them with each other?  We don’t always, but often enough.

All that is in me softens at her words. 

They take me back to a Mars Hill podcast about Philippians 1:1-2 I listened to in 2008. It was a sermon that forever changed the way I thought of this greeting in most of the New Testament epistles.

Rob Bell* defined grace in a few ways from the Greek word charis.  The first definition he gave was “joy, pleasure, favor, gratification, and acceptance.”  The next was “a favor done without expectation of return.”  The last he shared was from Spiro Zodiakes “the absolutely free expression of the love of God finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of God.”

Next, he took some time to define the word “peace.”  The Greek is aranay.  It means every kind of good (similar to its Hebrew counterpart shalom).  In the Bible, it is used in the present tense form, with the exception of one instance where it is in the future tense.  So when we read it, we should read it: every kind of good right now.

He moved from defining the terms to expressing them as the people we are to be—people that speak grace and peace; people who need grace and peace; people who interrupt with grace and peace; people who live grace and peace.  We are to be known for being people who share and are committed to speaking God’s grace and peace to others, including ourselves, in everything. 

My little one is exactly right—grace and peace.  Isn’t this the way we should want every conflict to end?

Isn’t this the way Jesus answers us when we come surrendered and trust him to take all that we have done wrong and lay it before the cross?  He brings His resurrection life and offers us grace and peace.

She offers an invitation to lay this time of conflict behind us with every kind of good right now and full of the free expression of the love of God, full of joy, favor and acceptance. 

Who can resist such an offer?

I touch her cheek, ever so gently, and say, “Grace and peace, Little Love.”


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we respond in all things (especially conflict) and to everyone we meet with the grace and peace of Jesus.  May we find that we speak His life and love to everyone we meet and are filled to overflowing with the gift that we share.

Jessica :)

P.S.  In thinking about grace and peace this week I have found myself humming along to this Jill Phillips song that became a favorite of mine during the early morning drives when I was headed to work in the first couple of months we lived in Utah.  May you listen and find yourself clinging to the grace and peace that comes through Jesus.  If you really like it you might consider adding it to your library.  (Just so you know...I don't actually know Jill Phillips.  I have not been asked to promote her music.  I just believe that if I enjoy an artist, you should support them!  And...I would have embedded the video, but that feature doesn't seem to be working for me today! The video will go into the post, but not appear in any of the previews I have done...Sorry about that!)

*Admittedly, Rob Bell has been a rather controversial figure in the Christian community for awhile now.  I don't believe or necessarily agree with everything he has written or taught.  However, the series on Philippians is one of the best sermon series I have listened to.  As with any speaker, teacher, author it is important to thoughtfully consider what they teach in light of what the Bible says. 

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