Friday, January 28, 2005

GRACE (GOD'S): Divine Surrogate for What We Deserve!

AT THE TIME APPOINTED [1 Peter 3:15; other topics - Timing]
During the June 4th 1944, WWII Normandy invasion 25-year-old Pvt. Ray Aebischer’s parachute opened with such a jolt his heavy jump-pack was torn from his shoulders, plummeting to earth. Everything he needed to survive (machine gun, carbine, ammo, canteen, rations, personal items, etc.) was lost. Ray was so sure he’d never see his gear again he dismissed it from his mind. Pvt. Aebischer didn’t count on Emmanuel Allain.

One dar in October 1997, a letter arrived from Mr. Allain, a WWII aficionado and collector. He wrote, “I found in a farm in Normandy all the stuff (belt pistol, carbine ... suspenders belt, canteen, pocket first aid, etc.) of a soldier.” The name on several of these items was Ray R. Aebischer. Now 81, Aebischer said he was “dumbfounded.”

Last month he and his wife flew to England, where Allain met them with the wayward jump-pack in hand. “I could think of so many instances where I could have been killed,” he said. “I thought to myself, except for the grace of God, I could be there. The real heroes are still over there.”

[“Soldier’s D-Day invasion gear found 53 years later,” The Washington Times, June 14, 1999, National Weekly Edition, p.18; from a Newport News, Va. (AP) report]

LOVE CHANGES THINGS [Galatians 3:1-3; other topics - Law, Love]
Consider the widow woman who remarried: her first husband was a totalitarian man, very controlling, dictatorial, and unforgiving; her second husband was loving, gentle, patient, and forgiving.

While cleaning a trunk, she came across her first husband’s list of rules: first, arise at five AM, every morning; second, breakfast at six AM, sharp, three basted eggs, toast lightly buttered; third, all washing to be ironed, including sheets, cases, and sox, with starch in collars; and fourth, fresh coffee, three times each day. Other rules concerned exact amounts of salt to use in his meals, how she was to appear in public, and what things she was could say in the company of others.

The list confronted her with a horrible truth: she was still keeping her first husband’s rules. But she smiled when she realized she had been forced to keep the rules under her first husband, yet now she was glad to keep them because of her second husband’s love for her.

Love changes things. What seems to be burdensome under the authority of a loveless tyrant becomes a labor of love under the authority of gracious master.

There is no longer a need to keep the Law for we are "saved by grace through faith" [Ephesians 2:8]. Yet Jesus said, “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 7:12] And Jesus’ half-brother said, “One who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. … So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.” [James 1:25; 2:12]

Anytime we need to be reminded of the difference between Law and Grace, all we must do is revisit the first five books of the Old Testament; there we’ll see the old taskmaster at work. We may then smile and know that we are keeping His law gladly due to His great love for us, and that while we are yet sinners [Romans 5:8].

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