A summer full of adventure means a summer full of laundry. All this camping, hiking, biking, and swimming has certainly kept me busy!
In the year-and-a-half since I wrote this, my laundry responsibilities may have shrunk, but my need to constantly receive the “unearned covenant love” of God certainly hasn’t!
Originally posted December 2017
There are a few things no one could have prepared me for in becoming a parent. Laundry is one of those things. In our pre-kid life, laundry was an occasional chore. Once a week (or maybe every other) the basket would fill up and we’d run a load.
But with kids, laundry is constant! Just when you’re feeling accomplished – you’ve collected, washed, dried, folded, and put away a load, you look down and it’s time to start all over again. You think it’s bad when you have infants or toddlers, but nothing can prepare you for having three girls who purposely change their clothes multiple times a day! It never ends!
11 years into this gig and I still feel like I can’t get a handle on it. The only option, of course, is to keep plugging away and as my mother suggests – do a load a day, no matter what. I’m still working on that goal and I’m guessing I’ll get there around the time our youngest heads off to college. 😋
More constant than laundry in my life is my self. Just about 40 years into this gig and I still feel like I can’t get a handle on my sin. Just when I think I’ve got an area under control, I look down and there’s another mess ready to be cleaned up. No matter how much I’d like to have it all together – folded and nicely organized on a shelf – I don’t think that’s ever going to happen!
In the opening address of his gospel, John takes some time to introduce his main character – Jesus. He holds nothing back in making sure the reader understands that Jesus is God and that only through Him can we know God and experience His glory. In verse 14, John says “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Before Jesus, the closest anyone had ever been to seeing God’s glory first-hand was Moses when he returned to Mt. Sinai after the ‘golden calf incident’. God had spoken His law to the people through Moses and they had responded by saying, “‘We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.’” (Exodus 24:7) But, feeling abandoned after Moses’ delayed return from another visit with God, they gathered up their gold, “‘threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!’” (Exodus 32:24 – one of my favorite lines in the Bible 😉 #humans) How quickly a clear commitment to obedience was traded for the mess of sin!
Before one of his next trips up the mountain, Moses asked God to show him His glory as an assurance that He was still with them. “And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.’” (Exodus 33:19) When this happened a few verses later, that name was defined: “‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;’” (Exodus 34:6)
The name – the very definition of God’s character – was grace. Even in their blatant breaking of the covenant, their God was, at the heart of His nature, committed to them and willing to restore and continue the relationship. He showed His faithfulness by revealing to them His commands, by enforcing those commands for their good, and by offering them the substitution of animal sacrifices to cleanse them from their guilt. We don’t tend to think of it this way, but it was all grace – it was all His “unearned covenant love”* toward them.
When John described Jesus as “full of grace and truth,” He was using the same terms as the “abounding in love and faithfulness” found in Exodus 34:6.* John states that “out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” (John 1:16) Though “grace and truth were clearly present in the law… Moses could not witness their fulness because he could see only part of God’s glory. Their ultimate expression would come in the Word/law enfleshed [in Jesus]”.*
Jesus was not only completely full of the glory of God’s grace and truth, He was so full that He overflowed it to the people around Him. He embodied compassion and in the ultimate act of grace, He became the final, once-for-all substitute for the cleansing of sin.
That cleansing and restoration are available, as John says in verse 16, to all who will “receive” it. The word “receive” in this sense, is a verb meaning to “actively lay hold of,” emphasizing the initiative of the taker.* It is an act of our will to receive the grace offered to us when we first believe in Him (John 1:12), but it is also an act of our will to constantly receive the constantly available grace that is already ours.
Over the past few years, I’ve transitioned most of the girls’ laundry over to their responsibility. It’s a little risky given that they use Catalina, a tomato-based salad dressing, on almost everything they eat (and then wipe their hands on their clothes) – but it’s a risk I’m willing to take!
Not only are they learning about the consequences of changing your outfit multiple times a day (and motivated to stop using their shirts as napkins), they are learning about the constant. Almost every time I hear whining about how “I don’t have any clean pants!” and I make a suggestion that they might want to do some laundry, the reply is: “I just did it the other day!”
As constant as my sin is, grace is more constant. But as constant as grace is, its power in my life is limited to my awareness of it. “The fulness of the supply is constant;” says commentator Charles Ellicott, and “the power to receive increases with the use”.* Sure, it would be nice if I had gotten all cleaned up the day I accepted Christ or maybe if I just had to deal with a small pile here and there, but it’s the daily loads that keep me actively receiving. My daily acceptance of grace increases its power in my life. It’s never a chore to hear the simple truth of grace because every moment I hear it is a moment I need it!
*The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament, p. 781
*The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament, p. 250, John 1:14
*The IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament, p. 250, John 1:16-17