Sometimes grace is simply having the strength to take another breath. It’s God in the valley, His promise of all things good the only glimmer of light in a seemingly endless fog.
But sometimes — ah, sometimes! — grace is the extravagance. The exceeding abundance of an unexpected gift, beyond what you ever asked or thought. It’s the absurd imbalance of unmerited favor — when you know the very best you can hope to give is less than infinitesimal, and suddenly He’s giving to you good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, and poured into your lap.
It’s what happens when a master artist creates, and a generous benefactor seeks to bless, and the one who receives feels himself utterly unworthy, bows low and worships the one true Giver, returning the blessing whence it came.
And so the package arrived. He read the name of the sender, and the wonder of disbelief lit his eyes.
He knew the work of this master luthier. Knew that his one-of-a-kind, custom guitars are exquisite in craftsmanship and tone. Knew that most of them are made on commission, and people pay dearly and wait months to receive one. Before he opened the case, he knelt and uttered humble thanks.
“Lord,” he whispered. “This is pure grace.”
Our son-in-law, Curtis, is passionate about life, family, community, music, and most of all, Jesus. And it shows. He’s one of the most intentional, genuine people I know, embracing fullness, celebrating all that’s good in life, doing what he loves to undo what he hates.
Stephen Kinnaird is a musician, a pastor, and a maker of the most beautiful guitars I’ve ever seen or heard. George and I have known him since college, and a few weeks ago he emailed me for some advice. He’d built a spec guitar at the request of some Australian luthiers who sent him samples of native woods and asked him to experiment, document his process, and report back on the results. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to an Australian/New Zealand Luthiers Forum discussion with Steve’s observations and photos of his process as he built the guitar.) The experiment was a grand success, and after it was all over, a gorgeous, unique, remarkable instrument needed a home.
Enter the anonymous benefactor. Someone who knew about Curtis’ ministry and Steve’s guitar believed the two belonged together and offered to make that possible. Steve contacted me to figure out the best way to present the guitar to Curtis, and after I got over my initial shock, we discussed options and decided he would ship it from his shop to their home in Seattle while George and I were in town. Curtis would be surprised, but we would be present to add a personal element and explain the story.
The surprise went off perfectly, and the more Curtis examined the guitar and learned the story, the more amazed, humbled, and awestruck he became. It’s a story he will tell again and again, and I feel certain the wonder will always remain. Every time he plucks the strings, feels their lively response, and hears the pure, resonant tones, he will be reminded of God’s extravagant love and the exceeding abundance of bountiful grace.
And now a new chapter of the story begins. The one who receives gives back again, singing his gratitude for sheer love of the Giver, and the gift expands and grows. It settles into the valley’s darkness, and a wounded world hears a hint of song. It whispers hope and celebrates purpose, and it wraps itself sweet around weary faith, murmuring soft the word that echos down the centuries from a rough-hewn cross and an empty tomb.
Come, it sings, receive this grace. Remarkable, unique, one-of-a-kind — pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Come, receive, without money and without price.
It’s God’s lavish grace.
And it’s free.
* * *
Giving thanks in community for:
#215 two weeks in the refreshing northwest
#216 fresh produce from Pike Place Market
#217 dark chocolate truffle from Trader Joe’s
#218 the privilege of witnessing an amazing grace given and received
#219 hiking on Mt. Rainier
#220 camping on the Olympic Peninsula
#221 needing a sweatshirt in the summer
#222 ferry rides
#223 sunlight on water
#224 sunset over mountains
#225 an over-sized moon hanging in the sky like a slice of peach on a navy blue plate
#226 sweet Sparrow kisses
#227 chubby, dimpled knees
#228 art created and celebrated to the glory of God
#229 hilarious, ridiculous grace and the always good Giver’s delight to give
Have you tasted lavish grace lately? I’d love to hear about it.