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Friday, November 6, 2015

Etched with the poetry of heaven...

Infused with life - I think this says it all!  Something which is infused is penetrated with whatever it is which is "poured" into it.  When I want a cup of tea, I place the tea bag in to the cup, boil the water, then pour the water over the tea bag.  At first, the water only takes on a slight "hint" of the color of the tea in the bag, but as the tea leaves begin to be saturated with the water, the infusion of the rich color of the tea begins to emerge and the water begins to smell of the fullness of those tea leaves.   The water takes on the color of the tea leaves, while the tea bag and leaves take on the saturating effect of the water.  Each affects the other.  God's grace and mercy is poured into our lives - saturating us with the richness of his love.  In turn, we begin to give off a "rich aroma" of grace and the evidence of his presence within us begins to be apparent to those who observe our lives.  We have been "infused with life" and it begins to "show" to all those around us.

But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King.  He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed.  For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple.You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.  For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.  (Ephesians 2:4-10 VOICE)

Just as the tea bag is pretty much "useless" until it is infused with the hot water, so our lives are pretty much "useless" until we are infused with the unfathomable richness of God's love and mercy.  God "focuses" his love and mercy on us - uniting us with Christ and infusing our lifeless souls with life.  I like the very next part of the passage - "though we were buried under mountains of sin".  This is such an appropriate picture of how each of us lives life apart from Christ Jesus - "buried under mountains of sin".  This is where God finds each of us - not walking freely through life without a burden to speak of, but buried to our gills under sin's weight and binding power.  One might equate this to being buried under the weight of an avalanche of snow.  Although snow melts in our hands and seems pretty harmless to the onlooker, in a moment's time, it can surround a life with weight too powerful to escape, molding itself around the form it encapsulates in its suffocating iciness. 

Why are we delivered - infused with grace?  Isn't it so that each of us may be the "living testimony" of that grace?  Just think about what it means to be infused with grace for a moment and you will begin to recognize there is something which "steeps within us" until we begin to exude the deep aroma of grace from our lives.  The tea bag doesn't do anything to receive the hot water - in fact, if we are to enjoy the tea, there are actions apart from the tea bag being there that are required.  First, the water must be prepared.  Then the bag must be in the cup, water being carefully added to the cup.  But...we aren't finished with the water being added - there must be time for the "infusion" to "affect" the leaves within the bag.  We all have a spirit - it is how we are created.  We are kind of like the tea leaves within the bag. We only have life within that spirit because we are infused with the Spirit of God at the point we say "yes" to Jesus.  In time, the life-giving Spirit of God begins to "infuse" our spirit with the very thing which will bring forth the beauty of God's presence within us - grace affecting our mind, will, body, and spirit until we exude the aroma and image of his love.

Just as it would be kind of senseless for the tea bag to brag about the tea-colored and tea-flavored liquid in the cup, it is kind of senseless for us to think it was anything we did to become the recipients of this grace we are given so freely.  The tea bag is simply a tea bag until it is infused with the water - nothing beautiful comes from it without it being infused. Apart from the actions of Jesus and the Spirit of God within, nothing beautiful comes from our lives, either.  I like the part of this passage which describes us as the product of His hand.  Our lives are "etched with the poetry of heaven" - grace being the instrument by which this "etching" occurs.  That which is etched is permanently "marked" with whatever did the etching.  I have seen beautifully etched crystal.  The crystal was pretty by itself, but when the artist etched it with the beauty of the design he envisioned for the piece, it took on new beauty.  Each of us is beautiful in the eyes of God - and we take on all the beauty he intends for our lives as his grace begins to etch the "signs of his love" deep into the places of our lives where only his grace can touch.  

The pictures of being infused and etched both give us an appropriate illustration of how grace affects our lives.  We don't do much to be infused, nor do we do much to be etched. Each requires the action of God in our lives - each reveals a little more of the beauty only he can bring forth.  Just sayin!