Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lost in the Packaging

"Grace" by Edenpictures
"God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways."
~ 2 Corinthians 9:9 (MSG)

When Deborah Shank asked us to comment on this paraphrased verse for the "In Other Words" writing meme, I didn't get any immediate inspiration.  But then I read from my daily devotional schedule (this was yesterday), and came across this account:

Then they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"—then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house.

(Mat 9:2-7)

Yesterday I wrote a short story called, "The Gilded Box" which was inspired by that account.  (Haven't read it yet?  Please do, and then come back here.  If you don't read it, you'll miss some of what I'm saying below.)

Ok, in case you're wondering, there really is a connection tying "The Gilded Box" with both of the quotes above.  Having trouble finding it?  Read on.

What's one of the "astonishing ways" that God pours out His blessings?  The one that comes to my mind today is, "The packaging they come in."

Sometimes His blessings come in ugly packages.  Oysters house pearls.  Prison cells echo with joyous hymns.  A feed trough nestles a savior. 

The more we grow in Christ, the more we find that ugliness reminds us to look for Him.

But what do we do with the lovely packages He gives us?  Do we become so distracted by their beauty that we never look inside?

Green lights when we're running late.  Safe flights.  Uncomplicated births.  Cancer miraculously gone.  Lame legs which leap up and run.

Should we thank Him for each blessing?  Of course! 

But do we remember to open up each gilded box and look at what's inside?

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…but some time later, he died again.  So did everyone else that Jesus ever healed.  How many of them ever opened the treasure they'd received…ever found the message inside the golden miracle?

But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"—then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."

The note inside the box…the meaning in the miracle is simply this:  Jesus has the power to forgive sins.  The miracles and blessings you can see point with unwavering fingers to the miracle you cannot see, and they offer assurance.

He who opened your eyes, He who softened your hard heart, He who healed your disease, He who created the beauty all around you…He also has the power to forgive sins.  And because of the cleansing He provides, He can also give you an offer of marriage…the chance to be joined with him in engagement throughout this life, and in perpetual bliss throughout the only real Happily Ever After.

How many receive His gifts of common grace without ever looking inside the pretty packages for the offer of lifelong relationship hidden within?  How tragic for them!

How many of us who already know Him still forget the greatest gift of all…His forgiveness and eternal love…because we're distracted by the pretty packaging of His earthly blessings?

Jesus forgives sins and offers His love to us forever!

When was the last time you felt astonished by that?

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This week's "In Other Words" is hosted by Deborah Shank at Chocolate and Coffee.  Drop by there to find links to other entries on the assigned quotation, or to add a link to your own!

 

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10 comments:

Karen said...

That was really good. I like how you talked about the packages that God's blessings come in. Often they are not wrapped in pretty decorative paper but they contain a blessing in them far more valuable than we can imagine. Thanks for sharing today!

MiPa said...

Wow! This (and the story) is beautiful! How often we reject the blessing because we can't see past the packaging! Thank you for sharing this week. This challenges me.

Jennifer said...

Wow...excellent post and so very true. Love the analogy...such a good reminder.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Continually astonished by the note inside the pretty wrapping. In fact, the wrapping rarely attracts me anymore. God has humbled me time and again with his goodness in my life. He, alone, is enough for me. Sure, the other "stuff" keeps me comfortable, but when that stuff becomes too important so that I view it as my "right" instead of a "grace filled privilege", then I often lose sight of the most precious gift of Jesus and his cross.

Thanks for these two posts. I love them both. May we all look beyond the wrapping to the grace beneath.

peace~elaine

LauraLee Shaw said...

What a great application to a phenomenal piece of fiction. Even though I've opened the package of HIs free gift of eternal life, I often neglect to see His gift of grace ready to be unpackaged in each moment of daily life.

This analogy's gonna stick with me, Betsy.

Esthermay said...

*WoW* You got me! I would have never put your fiction piece with the IOW for today. VERY NICE!

I was not impressed with the quote either since I'm not big on Eugene Peterson's Message when taken out of context. The Message is a beautiful "story" of redemption from beginning to end, but some of the words are not the original meaning and can be confusing.... even distorting the original intent. I almost did not participate today. . .
{but I'm on a rabbit trail...}sort-of'

Don't you think that alot of doctrinal and theological debate becomes the pretty pkg? And we fail to see the story of Redemption and Grace and Eternal Life because we're too wrapped up with the "words" (My case in point is my disagreement with The Message when taken out of context.

I conclude that I was blessed "astonishingly" today by your post.

Very good :)

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I'm glad I returned to read your tie-in, because I wouldn't have guessed correctly, had I tried. Well, I was going to guess that the note in your story represented God's gift of salvation that so many overlook, but I loved how you used the story of the healing of the paralytic to make your point. The gift of salvation is what every other blessing encases. Beautiful!

Tami Boesiger said...

You have a way of smacking us with the profound, Betsy. Here are my favorites:

The more we grow in Christ, the more we find that ugliness reminds us to look for Him.

How many of us who already know Him still forget the greatest gift of all…His forgiveness and eternal love…because we're distracted by the pretty packaging of His earthly blessings?

Together We Save said...

Great job.

Sherri Ward said...

Excellent points here, and challenging. And I loved the gilded box story - delightful, well done.

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