I wore my tweed sport jacket today. Linda left the house before me, so I was able to get out of the house with it. Did I mention that Linda hates that jacket? "It's old and out of style," she says.
"Just like me!" I respond. She is not amused. But it was the perfect introduction to today's sermon on grandparenting. For me, good grandparenting starts with honesty. An old guy trying to be cool...is not. So I told the congregation that this old tweed jacket is just like me. Then I informed them that often God's voice sounds a lot like Linda's, so it was probably best that I remove it while I preached.
The Scripture was from the story of David's adultery with Bathsheba, his subsequent conspiracy to murder, and the collapse of his family which resulted from his sin. I think David's problem wasn't so much a matter of lust as it was of losing his focus. As a young man, he confronted Goliath, trusting in God's power to deliver him. "You come to me with sword and shield, but I come to you in the name of the LORD, God of Israel, whom you have defied." was his battle cry back then. Now, instead of being leading his army out on the battlefield where he belonged, he was taking it easy in the palace, wondering if he still has what it takes. No longer looking to the Lord, he is seeing his greying hair, thickening torso, and feeling the effects of long-ago battle wounds. He needs to prove to himself that he is still a virile and powerful king. From the heights of grace, he has descended to the depths of having to prove himself. It's not pretty.
God found me as I entered my teenage years. But I wasted many a year trying to prove I had what it took to "make it." In 2004 when Park church almost went under, I learned the hard way what it meant to live in grace. I used to think I knew what it took to grow a church. I learned that I didn't know anything; anything worthwhile that happened was simply a gift of grace. I'm on my way to being an old man. I have little to lose and nothing to prove; that's one of the blessings of age. An even greater blessing is knowing I don't have to prove myself to God. I have no claim on his love. I am who I am simply because of God's amazing grace. Getting to this place wasn't easy. I wouldn't want to go through it again, but I am glad I went through it back then. I can relax in grace, which gives me the strength and will to exert myself even more for the sake of Christ. Grace keeps me in the game. No sitting back and letting the young have all the fun; I'm in it till I'm either drooling or planted in the ground. And I am so thankful to have learned the lessons of grace.