I can picture his calloused, blistered hands attaching the breast piece and overlaying an ephod. With deep breaths, he puts on his robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash.
He was one of the very few. Chosen. To enter in.
Every morning he had to check the fires. Adjust the wood just right – keep the flames going. God required this – every. single. morning. His hands evidence of his daily task.
“Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” Lev. 6:12-13
And then once a year – because he was a high priest, he walked beyond the second curtain. He was a priest in the tribe of Levi, the only men able to approach God…and plead mercy.
Can you imagine? The heavy weight on the chest as the wind of God’s presence HIT you just touching that curtain.
He may have gotten used to the stench. Of burning bulls and the blood spilled out. But I imagine his hands shook just a little….every time.
He knew “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22) And he knew he needed it. We all do.
There are still shaky hands today. Reaching out for the curtain to find God. Years and years of sins and offerings later. Trying to make it to noon without tipping the bottle……or moving the mouse to click on that flashing picture on the screen.
Sin – guilt – repentance. Repeat.
Sin has always been crouching at our door, gnawing away at our minds. And the guilt today is as serious as it was in the tabernacle days. It leads to death; it must have blood.
Some of us are keenly aware. Living from guilt to guilt. Reading posts and verses about freedom but living a double life. Doing what we don’t want to do, over and over again.
“I did it again, Lord.”
Our knees hit the floor and we ask Him —-again —do you have enough mercy —for ME?
When even the edges of my sin nature are caught by the light of His glory, there is a great chasm.
This is when conviction can lead to despondency. We fight to fix ourselves and fail miserably….with all our good deeds and such. (The usual routine of the “good” Christian soul)
What is this offering I keep laying down, handing over, milling with my hands? This good thing or the effort to do no wrong. Because this is most tiring of all ——–> Trying to be GOOD ENOUGH.
For Him. For others. For ourselves.
What if there was another way to live this life?
Moving beyond sin maintenance and beating ourselves up and wondering all the time if He is really deep down disappointed in us?
What if there really was another way beyond the curtain? Into the most intimate room with God and a life of peace for our own souls? What if the checklist could be burned on the altar? What if we were already enough?
Even Job – the man God considered blameless and upright – he asked “if only…”
With no New Testament to read or new covenant in his heart, years before the life of Christ, Job needed someone to come between his sin and the presence of a holy God.
“He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.
If only there were someone…
to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot. ” Job 9:32-35
“….so that His terror would frighten me no more.”
Because what “a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31)
So Christ- our Someone- laid His hands upon us all by stretching them out on a tree. He lifted His hands to the Father and carried the cup of our condemnation with his own blistered hands, worn from woodworking and stone cutting…..and we are still trying to come up with our own clean offerings.
“by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Heb. 10:14
Note – those in Christ – you ARE PERFECT in Him. You can’t get any better than the righteousness of Christ covering you.
Note – those who have yet to believe – believe in Him today!
The next step – the holy making – a day by day changing from glory to glory – that’s His business too. We obey, one brave day, one brave yes at a time.
It’s so tiring to try and complete something He started in the first place: our sanctification.
What does it look like to LIVE in the palm of those hands? To actually believe we are righteous by faith alone?
What would it really mean if we found ourselves whole in Him? Could this revelation of grace – wouldn’t it – push us into the arms of justice? Fighting for the grace of others. Empower us to leave the dark corners we hunker down in to offer a deep soul drink to the thirsty.
Wouldn’t it remove competition? The need for a great name? With this astounding love of the Saving Name.
Would it remove fear? Because love drives out fear and the receiving of unmerited grace is a shocking kind of love.
Would it change our thinking – about others? Because we know grace had nothing to do with who we are or what we’ve done but WHO HE IS and what HE DID.
What if we could really SEE that Someone – the living Christ we fix our eyes on - in every living soul we pass?
Like my three-year old son, who passed a shirtless, shoeless, bearded man at the park and said,
“Look, Mommy, …..God.”
(Be still my heart)
“Yes, honey. I see Him too.”
I’m interested in the LIVING OUT OF GRACE. The knowing and believing that leads to practical actions in our world.
Because freedom is only honored when we do something about it.
Real grace – understood – does not lead to self-indulgence. This living free in sin because we know we are forgiven. No. Authentic grace received is seen in ripe ready fruit offered to another and another and another. It’s seen in a desire to live for Him. Not a have to. A want to.
There is a real freedom in this new implanted desire. When those sins, those inklings to chase after the pleasures of this world become like the most bitter taste to the mouth. When your heart pounds for righteousness one victory over sin at a time.
And when the checklist has been burned on the altar and we rise from the ashes of all our rag offerings – we open our eyes to something new and unexpected. Something we thought we had to figure out and study and understand.
His JOY is our strength.
This is worth talking about, learning.
What kind of strength can be found over sin and complacency and guilt and condemnation by entering into His JOY?
And how does accepting grace unlock the door to that joy?
What does it practically mean to LIVE OUT the GRACE of GOD? I’m interested in that. Are you? Like my new Facebook group. Let’s talk about practical grace. Inside the church walls and all over the world. What are you learning about grace? Tweet your response with #gracelivedout. And follow along here on the blog to let your heart ponder just how much grace He has for you….and what that might mean for the way you live this one chance life.