Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Olive Press - gratitude" from L.L. Barkat

from Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places

L.L., through a novel she read, is awakened to the unswerving love of the Savior, who takes her place, and really every one of our places, in the pit, to be executed for us, while we're set free. Now the words, "Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross, for paying the price for our sins," are more than just words, but uttered with a cry from her heart, a cry of love and true gratitude.

We're taken to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus along with the Father, and Satan are locked in a struggle over the fate of humankind. In L.L.'s scenario, something of which likely was playing out during those three times Jesus prayed, Satan is reminding Jesus of Scripture in which God sentences his people to their just and deserved punishment, as well as the passage that states that no ransom payed is ever enough for their souls. But Jesus knows better, and his compassion is moved to take the place they, and actually we deserve. Jesus takes the place of his beloved, and his beloved is then freed from death to real life.

Gratitude. Why is it so hard to be thankful? Why do we over time so easily drift into ingratitude? It can be a sense of entitlement, forgetting who we really were and are apart from grace, and where we came from. It can come from forgetting over time the sheer wonder of our salvation: how lost we were and what a difference Jesus made in our lives at the start- true in my case. Some of us may not know the exact time we had faith in Jesus, but we may remember times when Jesus and his salvation seemed much more real to us than it does now. And ingratitude can come from leaving our first love.

L.L. in reading the novel and thinking about her ingratitude, imagined all of her sinful thoughts against others inflicting injury on them, and then on herself. And then how Jesus comes and takes all that on himself. A wonderful and apt analogy, for sure.

I have to acknowledge that I can all too easily take our great salvation in Jesus for granted. Instead of dimming and losing sight of the wonder of God's grace in Jesus, we ought to be growing in our appreciation and awe over it. The further we go in God through Christ, the more we should see just how great this salvation really is, and what a truly loving and giving God, God is.

This chapter was a timely, good word for me. Part of God's will for us in Christ Jesus. And the "discussion questions" are challenging. This chapter stretched me, true really throughout the book. Easy to read superficially, but harder to read if you really grapple with what L.L. is saying.

1. Stepping Stones - conversion
2. Christmas Coal - shame
3. Tossed Treasures - messiness
4. Heron Road - suffering
5. Sword in the Stone - resistance
6. Howe's Cave - baptism
7. Palisade Cliffs - doubt
8. Holding Pfaltzgraff - inclusion
9. Indiana Jones - fear
10. Old Stone Church - love
11. Goldworthy's Wall - sacrifice
12. Clefts of the Rock - responsibility

Next week: "Forest Star - humility"


Anonymous said...

i also wanted to comment on this.

i read this chapter again today.
i read the book so quickly the first time, and i think that i could pick up more things even if i read it many times.
it is just that kind of writing and expression that can take me to many different place in just a few pages.

a very good chapter.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I'm so glad you commented here, Nancy, and what you say is so very true about this book! I hope L.L. is able to keep right on writing for years to come.