Monday, June 05, 2017


Last week I had coffee with a friend, and when we stood to leave she apologized for the pants she was wearing.
            “I wear these all the time. They’re my default.”
            “I have the same pair,” I said. “I like mine too.”

She had been wearing those stretchy black pants. You know the ones. We all have a pair. We could live in them 24/7. Dress them down for housecleaning or lounging. Dress them up for coffee with a friend or even a night out.  

My friend had just come through a difficult time of family-drama. No wonder she was ready for those comfy pants with the elastic waistband. She needed some grace, some breathing room.

God knows we need elastic - better known as grace. We are not perfect. We are weak; we struggle; we give in to temptation; we hurt others. And God rescues us. And not with just any kind of grace, but grace with a two-way stretch. While God’s grace is wide, like that wide waistband, it is also deep and high, and He invites us to dive in. Ephesians 3:18 describes the vastness of God's love:    ". . . the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced" (The Voice). 

King David describes the depth and width of God’s kindness in Psalm 103:11 and 12:  

            As high as heaven is over the earth,
            so strong is his love to those who fear him.
            And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
            he has separated us from our sins (The Message).

How high is heaven over earth? Scientists say that our universe is ever-expanding! And what about the width of his mercy – has anyone ever measured the distance between sunrise and sunset? Is it not an eternal circle? Is God telling us that His mercy is vast and immeasurable? That His kindness knows no end?

The Psalmist said of God’s path that it was broad and easy to walk upon: “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way” (Psalm 18:36).  He reminds us again later in Psalm 31:8, “Thou hast set my feet in a large room.”

While we know that broad is the path to destruction and narrow is the gate to eternal life (Matthew 7:13,14), King David also knew that walking in obedience to God provided wideness, soul-freedom, and liberty.

The wide-open fields of the Enemy are not wide and free as we might think. They are a maze of constantly changing “right and wrong”. Our footsteps are never sure or confident when there are no absolute standards! Living in relativism causes confusion, insecurity, and fear (Isaiah 33:15; Romans 7:11; Psalm 36).

However, the walls of God’s Kingdom are widely-set, so spacious in fact that we have room to run and dance, and space to fall and make mistakes. We feel secure inside His protective barriers, inside His grace-space. 

Instead of the simplicity of grace, Pharisees dressed in layers of law-keeping and the high-fashion of religiosity. It could not have been comfortable. There was never any wiggle room for somebody to make a mistake, to struggle, to fall. Jesus condemned their rigid judgmental attitudes. “The Law and the Prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it” (Luke 16:16, emphasis mine). His grace extended to tax-collectors, prostitutes, and indeed everyone that recognized their need.

Jesus frees us from the chains of sin and the law, to live a new life of obedience to Him. “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you” (Galatians 5:1, The Message).  

Does that mean we can live how we want? I love the way Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message:

So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom! (Romans 6:15-18: emphasis mine).

We have all blown it. We all need grace, everyday. Like those stretchy black pants, God’s grace covers us in the stress and rigor of everyday life, but His garment is also beautiful enough to enter the throne room of our King (Hebrews 4:16).   

Why go around wearing the latest style of self-righteousness? All the frippery of ritzy rules and pretentious policies only serves to weigh us down, make us itchy, and restrict our movement. Step into the robe of Jesus’ goodness instead (Isaiah 61:10), and enjoy the depth and width of His mercy. Extend the same kindness to others. We all need His eternal, elastic, grace-space. Everyday.

The lyrics of Frederic Faber’s hymn (1854) speak about God's two-way stretchy grace. Click on the link below and listen if you like:
  There's a Wideness in God's Mercy

Pamela Mytroen takes inspiration from the never-changing bedrock of God's Word, and the ever-changing skies and seasons of Saskatchewan. The tenacity of her English students, and the diverse cultures they represent, challenge her comfortable life and have informed many recent stories. She loves a tall Norwegian farm boy who has tried teaching her how to hunt, call coyotes, and check the gas gauge. Their four children and two grandchildren, LadyBug and Sir Cricket, offer a steady supply of sweet words which she unabashedly plagiarizes, and tucks into short fiction, blogs, human-interest pieces, and devotional writing.    


Peter Black said...

Pam, what an engaging analogy for the elasticity of grace - those stretchy black pants! And Sister, you delved right into a good preach there, and you provided lots to chew on and to provide challenge and cheer. Grace - it really is a charming sound, harmonious to heart and ear . . . Amazing. Thanks. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

Give me the grace elastic any time! Love this, Pam. Thanks for the reminder of how far and wide and deep and long God goes for us. Wonderful assurance. In fact a blessed assurance!

fudge4ever said...

Thank you Peter and Glynis! Yes, grace is amazing, isn't it!! I'm appreciating God's love more and more and how He walks through darkness with us and yet in Him is no darkness at all! What blessed assurance, you are right Glynis!

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