Monday, March 10, 2008

Grace - An Invitation

I was six years old in my first year of school attending a small one-room school in the country.

The year was 1953, long before the days of school playgrounds with sophisticated toys and sports equipment. We devised our own games and imaginary play .

I remember coming back to school one day, after being home sick, to find that some of the girls had constructed a play house in the back of the schoolroom. Where they got the cardboard and other material from, I do not know. I do know that it looked much grander to my six-year-old eyes than what it could possibly have been in reality.

How I longed to see the inside of this castle and to be included in the group of girls playing there.

Although I had not been invited, I hesitantly approached the playhouse hoping to be allowed in.

The leader of the group of girls stood watching me as I slowly came closer, and I was hopeful that she would invite me to come join their play. The playhouse was up on a platform which allowed her to look down on me. She waited until I stood at the foot of the stairs and then she haughtily spoke these words.... "I'm the queen of the castle and you're the dirty old rascal."

The words stung - tears filled my eyes and I turned away, feeling the pain of rejection.

The "queen's" name, ironically, was Grace !

Was this my first example of God's grace?

I remember clearly the first time I heard a radio sermon on the predestination of God. The pastor explain clearly how God ordained some people to hell and some to heaven. The teaching made a deep impact on my mind. Dad after day , on the lonely mile-long walk home from school I pondered the questions assaulting my heart and mind. If God had predestined who should be saved and who should not -- then I had no reason to hope that I should be included in the 'elect'.

Who was I but one of the insignificant ones.

I had accepted Jesus when I was eight and knew the joy of being forgiven and had experienced the reality of a changed heart ... but now I doubted. Had I taken something that was never intended to be mine? Had it simply been the desire of my heart that led my imagination to believe that I could be saved ?

The more I dwelt on my questions of doubt, the more convinced I became that my 'joy' had been based on nothing more than a futile hope and I had never really been saved at all and worse... never would be.

Fear took hold of my heart, fear that I was one of those predestined for hell and there was nothing I could do to change it .

The lies of the enemy embedded in doubt and fear accomplished their finished work over the next years until finally I turned my back completely on God - finding a kind of peace in simply denying His very existence.

Then in 1979 I had an experience with the Lord that forever changed me. I came face to face with the reality of His love in a way that would forever fill me to overflowing leaving no room at all for doubt that I was accepted by Him.

I was overwhelmed by His mercy and grace. I was not arbitrarily chosen to be one of His elect but I was accepted in the Beloved by His foreknowledge that I would come.

Whosoever !! One of my favourite words. Not for a select few did Jesus die, but for the whole world.

Whosoever may come! It is not His will that "any should perish, but that all come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9)

His will, that all come to His outstretched arms. "Him that cometh to Me , I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:27) No one will ever walk up to Jesus and be turned away. His grace is freely extended to everyone who comes!!

Whosoever will ! But is not even the 'willing' of God? Yes, for to every man has been given a measure of faith. Faith to EVERY man, and a free choice.

When I seek God, when I 'will' to believe Him, then He has already by His foreknowledge chosen me, predestined me to His elect by the sanctifying work of His Spirit.

"Many are called , but few are chosen." (Matt.22:14)
By God's will ? NO ! by the will of man -- a hardened heart or a seeking heart -- the choice is personal for every person.

God's grace is open to every 'whosoever' that was ever born !

How great is God's grace ! How wonderful His Father love.

How can we limit His invitation when His command is to go into all the world calling every man to come to the One who will reject no-one.

Is the way narrow? Yes.

But the door to salvation is open to 'whosoever' knocks!!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

6 comments:

Demara said...

He is an open door to all who wish to visit with Him isn't he? And His door is HUGE with His arms open wide.

Elsie said...

AMEN!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

This post went well with the Door posting challenge on Wednesday. I love the word Whosoever as well. Me, me too!

Julie, please drop by my blog and join me on a walk through an amazing garden. I thought of you, and wished you could have been there with me and shooting pictures along side me like you did last summer.

If I can't bring Julie to the garden, then I guess I must bring the garden to Julie!

James Janzen said...

I can just feel your desires as a little girl to be accepted and included in the cardboard hut. Kids can be soo cruel and some never grow up. Won't heaven bee soo grand when we will be included in all the great adventures ready for our enjoyment. See ya soon!!

Sara said...

This is a wonderful post Julie, so well said. "Whosoever will..." two words with life-and-death meaning for each one of us!

"Whosever will" is the door upon which the Lord knocks and it is up to us to chose to open the door or let it remain closed.

"Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." Hebrews 4:7/Psalms 95:7-8

Anonymous said...

If what you say is true then the Christian is one who saves himself/herself by their action of acceptance of Jesus who is knocking at the door, hoping the person will answer the call.

The hardened will of man (against God) is first broken by His changing of the persons heart.

To be honest, I wasn't looking to trust Jesus when I first read the bible. I was reading it to prove it was wrong. God opened the eyes of my heart so that my mind could comprehend His message of truth and grace. He is so amazing!!

My act of "accepting" was in truth a response to the work of the Holy Spirit, and it was volitional. I wanted to trust Christ... but He had to do the work of changing my heart.

Whoever reads this please don't become angry at people who believe God is sovereign over everyone. I was one of the loudest armenians around up until a few years.

At a certain point I recognized that my anger was based on pride in my own work of salvation. I didn't want to just be picked based on God's criteria, I wanted to "deserve" to be saved because I had "decided" to trust Christ and didn't recognize pride for what it is. I had turned salvation into idolatry.

Realizing that God chooses whom He does based on how He wants to glorify His name (Isaiah 43:7)makes me that much more thankful of His mercy. I didn't do anything to deserve it, it was all grace.