Today, I went to the Petsmart. I both love and hate going to the Petsmart. I love the animal things. I love the people and their pets. I love the adoption center until I realize that I can't take anyone home with me.
This morning I went in to find a more comfortable vacation dwelling for our class turtle, and in the process, I fell in love with a cute little kitty named Panda. Panda was everything a sweet boy of his age should be. He was handsome and strong with impeccably groomed whiskers. As is the case with all handsome young men who see me (of the feline variety, at least), he turned on the charm and began the incredibly easy task of winning my heart.
I was standing there talking politely with Mr. Panda as he pressed his muzzle and sides up against the bars of his temporary home. You know the way cats do in pet stores. They throw themselves head long into affection even when there are steel bars in between. I stood there as a long as I could petting and chatting with Panda before beginning to feel foolish. He was just a cat after all. I finally made the break and walked away.
I started thinking as I walked away. Panda would have nuzzled that door for as long as I would have been willing to stand there. Had I opened the door to Panda's cage, he wouldn't have stayed inside of it. He wouldn't be content with the stilted affection of hands that were separated by a door. This reminded me of grace.
A lot of times I'm like Panda, pressing myself against the boundaries of God's grace. I'm content to prance along it's periphery and let the trace amounts of mercy dance along my spine. I forget that the door is already open, but unlike Panda, I'm foolish enough to content myself with the outskirts.
Just like when the door of Panda's cage opens up, and he can jump into the arms of a loving owner, so I can leap into the arms of grace all the time. Except, I don't. I could luxuriate in grace. I could curl up in it's lap and be lavished with love, but I don't . Sometimes, I don't even press myself up against it's door. Sometimes, I pretend it doesn't exist at all.
Our cage is sin and death, and while it's always just a cold steel box, there are tricks of the light that make it look warm and inviting. We stay there for a time. We're happily unaware of our circumstances until we brush up against the edge and feel that hand of grace. The door's unlocked, the hand is there, but we're embarrassed or ashamed or we've forgotten what it feels like to live, and we think that glimmer of a hand is all there is.
Fortunately, God is nothing like me, and He doesn't feel foolish standing there petting and talking and waiting. Until one day, some glad morning, when we step out of the box and back into freedom . . . into grace . . . into warm arms of the loving Father.
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."Revelation 3:20
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