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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Humble Pie With a Dollop of Grace

It was a lovely evening.

We sat around my in-law's dining room table and laughed while Corban and Micah filled their plates yet again with turkey, cranberry jelly and mashed potatoes. It was funny because we had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's home, not quite an hour before! But they are growing boys, so we just sat back and watched, remembering a time when we could eat whatever we wanted.

The conversation flowed over slices of pie and coffee. It really was enjoyable, but I found myself irritated that I had needed to remind the boys several times to say "Thank you!", and "Yes, please!" instead of "Yeah!"

They know these things - I've taught them to be respectful their whole lives! Are they on politeness overload from this long day of visiting family? I grumbled to myself, wiping the baby's nose and handing her the toy she'd dropped. Yes, Mama was on overload as well.

"Kevin, would you like a slice of pecan or pumpkin pie?" my mother-in-law asked him as he eyed the delectable pastries on the table. "Or perhaps a slice of both?"

He leaned in closer, licked his lips, and said, "Yeah!"

I couldn't stop it.

"Yes, please!" I hissed.


I clapped my hands over my mouth. My father-in-law did the same, but his eyes were twinkling. My mother-in-law burst into laughter, and my sweet husband winked and smiled at me, putting his hand on my arm in reassurance, instantly extending his loving form of grace.

I felt the blood rush into my face; I'm a terrible blusher. I honestly wanted to sink into a hole and disappear. Or at least to rewind the last five minutes.

I'm always extra anxious about behavior and manners when we're at my in-laws' home, but this was a new low for me. I had let my concern about appearances rule my mouth, and in so doing, had demeaned my husband, in front of his parents; in front of his children.

Oh, was there ever a woman more wretched than myself? I wash my mouth out with foot more often than I care to remember. I strive to be everything God wants me to be, and fall so short.

"So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." (Romans 7:14-25)

I affectionately (and perhaps innapropriately) call this the "doo-doo passage". (There are a lot of "do's" there, people.) But Paul's struggle mirrors our own, doesn't it? And even though I would love to blame sin for everything and say that it is too powerful to resist, I know that I have been freed from that trap - thank God - through Christ. The sin is mine to claim, and release. No longer does it carry the blame while I skate perilously close to the edge.

The trouble is not with my desires, for they are right and good - cherishing my husband, being a good mama, an upright disciplinarian, keeping a clean home - the trouble is with me.

I will fail.

And when I do, God reaches out his hand, lays it reassuringly on my arm, and gives me a wink and a smile. And I start again. Same desires, same goals, same struggles, even the same outcome more often than not.

So, would I like some forgiveness, or some grace? Or perhaps a helping of both?

Yes, please.

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Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...

Me too, Elise, a double helping of both. Great Post.

April 25, 2007 at 9:00 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

I would like a great big helping of both forgiveness, and grace. Thanks for sharing.

April 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

me too please

April 26, 2007 at 2:14 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Oh, you're so precious. I need a helping of both too. er, I mean, "please may I?" :)

April 26, 2007 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

Can I have seconds and thirds please =)

Great post.

April 26, 2007 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

I will never think of this 'do-do' passage the same again..:)

April 26, 2007 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Like the rest, I will take a large helping of both!

oops, I almost forgot my "please"

April 27, 2007 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Cyndi said...

Absolutely, I'd like to "super-size" that order. Please. :)

May 1, 2007 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Please, may I have some more?

Then maybe I can pass some on when others fail as well.

May 6, 2007 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Sisterlisa said...

Great illustration Elise. And I frequently say "Yeah" and I ALWAYS correct myself. lol For me it seems to be a West Coast slang. It's a hard habit to break. Most people I know use that word, even the affluent. Kind of like how the Southerners say, "Ya'all"

November 28, 2009 at 10:18 AM  

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It is good to hear from you... thank you so very much for leaving a note on the table. That makes us smile!

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