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Obstacles to Grace - Spring Housecleaning

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By Al Earley

As we come closer to Easter I want to celebrate God’s gift of grace. When we know and love Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Savior then we can understand grace, which is God’s love and forgiveness of our sins which is not contingent on anything we do. We don’t earn grace and we don’t deserve it. It is a free gift given to us because God loves us so much.  In the Parable of the Day Laborers (Matthew 20:1-16) Jesus tells us all about the God’s out-of-control grace showered down upon us. In it Jesus describes a landowner who hires day laborers at different times of the day. This landowner pays each laborer the same wage at the end of the day whether they worked one, three, or six hours, or worked the entire day.  This parable often makes Christians uneasy because we can understand the anger of those who worked all day only to receive the same pay as those who worked for just one hour. If Jesus were talking about business management then this would be a poor parable, but he is talking about grace, and this is good news for all of us. No matter how long we believe in Jesus Christ, God’s grace is sufficient for us. We never need more grace. God always gives us all we need. God wants to shower His grace down upon us, but we set up all kinds of obstacles as we try to control our lives instead of trusting God with all things. We can think of those obstacles like the build up of dirt and clutter in our homes. What we need is a good spring housecleaning.    First, no housecleaning is complete without a cobweb duster. A totally distasteful job where the sticky things have been there so long they have collected dust and they are still sticky as only a spider web can be, and as you swish the corners all kinds of dust and debris falls in your face, especially when you get up high.  Spring housecleaning needs to start with the cobwebs, and the biggest obstacle to grace is our sin. Do you struggle with any of the seven deadly sins? Do you break any of the commandments? Do you doubt God’s ability to take care of you? What are the sins you struggle with daily? Give them to God and begin trusting in God’s grace to clean you up.  No fall housecleaning is complete without a bucket of Murphy’s Oil soap. The good housekeeper knows if you don’t keep up with the dust it starts to get sticky, and collects more dust, and after six months to a year those baseboards and woodwork, especially on the top, get this glue like dust film. When we hurt it is hard to thank God for God’s grace. When our back hurts, our heart is weak, we have arthritis, memory is slipping or our strength going then it presents a huge obstacle to grace.  I think there are two kinds of health problems. There are problems that are self-imposed, like smoking, laziness or eating too much. You can fill in the blank. These require an honest look at ourselves which is never easy, as well as a life style change.  Most people with self-imposed health problems usually blame everyone else, and do nothing to change the situation. Have you done this with your health problems? Go to God, ask for forgiveness and seek God’s strength and guidance to change.  Then there are permanent injury problems or old age. These require a life goal change. If our bodies are weakening, but we are still alive, God must have some reason for leaving us here, because we don’t go on to the next life until God is ready. One thing we must never forget is we are never to old to pray.  The Bible says in Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”  If we have gotten rid of the cob webs and cleaned the baseboards then we are off to a good start. Next week we will finish our spring housecleaning just in time for Easter, so we can get rid of any obstacles of grace.   Al Earley is the pastor of La Grange Presbyterian Church. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.