Being a parent has had a profound impact on my personal walk with Christ. At first, the busyness and stress of parenting caught me up in a web of distraction. Lately though, I've come to understand so much more about my personal faith, simply by discussing it with my Kindergarten big kid.
The other day, at the library, my youngest picked out a book about gratefulness. It looked like a little kid book, but upon reading through it, we found that it was very much above both of their heads. So, my oldest asked me to explain this concept of gratefulness (since the book really didn't other than pictures). The last picture was of a boy and girl in a kneeling position with hands together, so I explained that gratefulness means being thankful to God for all the many things He gives us. Trying to emphasize that point a little I asked him a follow up question, "What types of things are you thankful for?" He still couldn't think of anything to answer so I asked another way, "What does God give you the most that you really like?" His answer was simple, "Grace."
It's true that this is the biggest gift we've been given. Some may argue that we can be thankful for nature, but storms come that can tear it apart. We can be thankful for peace, but peace can be only temporary in this world, apart from Him. We can be thankful for food, clothing, money, or things, but all of these will pass away. We can be thankful for our health or our kids or our lives, but even these will be taken from us at some point. So what is the biggest, best gift that we should be grateful for every day? It's the amazing, impossible, overflowing grace that He gives.
Does this mean we're finished once we accept this grace? Is that the final step, just to be thankful that we no longer have to worry about eternal punishment? Absolutely not!
Grace is only one piece of the puzzle. To fully accept this freely given, extravagant gift of grace with a grateful heart, and yet continue blatantly down the path of sin and suffering is crooked thinking. This gift of love and acceptance can only be received with an open heart and humility. Don't let pride or self-centeredness stand in the way of fully appreciating His goodness. Accept the grace with a grateful heart by completely turning from that sin. Doing otherwise would be like winning a brand new house from a prize drawing and then letting it fall to pieces around you, inviting in some wild animals, and leaving the windows open in a hurricane. Accept the gift, but treasure it as well. Keep your doors and windows open only in good weather. Keep out the pests and mold and filth of sin, not because you have to, but because this is a gift to be treasured.