The other soccer parents probably thought I was crazy, as I looped the track around practice, with notecards in hand mumbling to myself. We had had a hard day at parenting, and, on hard days, I have to break out the Scripture memory cards.
While I shouldn’t be shocked that my children and I are sinners, I find myself shaken every time a new or different manifestation of brokenness and sin-sickness crops up in us. Seeing the latent sin in our boy’s hearts and also the sinful and my own fearful response as a parent had left me heavy. Will they ever amount to anything? What are we doing wrong? How do we address sin patterns with grace but also move our children towards ruts of righteousness?
I read and reread Titus 2:11-14, praying it over my life and the lives of our boys.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness ad to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
A pattern stood out to me. Grace as notion, devotion and motion.
We talk about grace often in our house. Every time we catch our children in the midst of sin, even the smallest things, we talk about owning and admitting it so that we can receive forgiveness and grace. Our kids are familiar with the notion of grace, and that is a good starting place.
Yet, I long for the grace of God to be more than a mere notion in our home. I long for the grace of God as seen through the Saving life, death and resurrection of Christ to become the object of our devotion.
Paul couldn’t help but talk incessantly about Jesus. He is the subject under every letter Paul wrote, including his letter to Titus. The grace of God that appeared most clearly in Christ caused Paul to worship his “great God and Savior Jesus Christ” and to look and long for the full revealing of His glory in the second coming of Christ.
Grace is so much more than a ticket out of hell or a fresh start after sinning. Grace, while true in fact, emanates out of the person of Christ, who along is worthy of our devotion. Grace is not a concept, it is a person.
When Jesus is the center of our devotion, grace will always lead to motion. Notice in the excerpt of Titus above that Paul attributes actions to grace. Grace (the person of Christ) has appeared for the purpose of bringing an exclusive salvation that is incredibly inclusive. Salvation, being made right with God, comes ONE way, through Christ. Yet, that grace is incredibly inclusive, open for all people in all times and places who will repent and receive.
Grace not only brings salvation, but trains its recipients. Those who come bow humbly under the gospel of grace put themselves under the training of Christ. Moving beyond notion and devotion, grace moves us toward motion, and that motion is away from sin and self and old manners of life and towards a totally other way of life.
I long for our boys to see grace in active operation in my life, moving me away from my own particular controlling desires and toward Christ’s love being the compelling force in my life. I want them to see me renouncing worldly passions and living a self-controlled life, one that finds its source and its fight in the implanted Spirit of Christ.
As I looped around the track at dusk, the Lord began moving me away from frustration at the sin patterns I see in my boys’ lives and toward the sin patterns in my life, that grace desires to conquer slowly and methodically.
I found myself less fearful and more faith-full that what God, by grace begins, by grace He will finish. He will continually take me from notion to devotion to motion. If He can work in such a way in my broken, sin-stuck heart, He can do the same in theirs.
I am so thankful that where grace reigns, grace trains. In my heart, in our home and beyond.