Garland of Grace

Scripture Crumb from Proverbs 1:8:

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,
and don’t reject your mother’s teaching,
for they will be a garland of grace on your head
and a [gold] chain around your neck.

At the beginning of the book of Proverbs, Solomon urges us to make the pursuit of wisdom our highest priority. Wisdom, at its core, is seeking God. Our life’s goal should be to intimately know God and follow Him in every thought, decision, action and attitude.

In Proverbs 1:8, we are encouraged to hold tight to the instruction and teaching of our parents. Embracing their wisdom and living out their instructions will result in a garland of grace on our heads and a gold chain adorning our necks.

Though the sentiment of the verse is directed toward a child, as a parent, I am humbled.

My teaching is to be a garland of grace placed on the heads of my son and daughter. My words, my actions and my attitudes are to instruct and be modeled, leaving a beautiful and worthy necklace around the necks of my children.

What I say and what I do are to bring blessing to my household.

Too often, parenting is extracting the kids from a fight, or losing it when yelling for the fourth time for them to go to their rooms, or ignoring the “I’m hungry” whines after they choose not to eat a meal. In the messy middle of parenting, I am tempted to (and do) resort to a much heavier chain than a garland of grace.

Days can quickly become ungracious and ugly when my heart is not in full pursuit of God. In order to parent with wisdom, I must be filled with the grace and beauty I deeply desire to instill in the precious gifts God has placed in my charge. That means my priority must be to God first, not to God when I can squeeze Him in.

If I want my children to embrace God and receive a garland of grace from me, I must be wearing one.

Empty

Our favorite syrup is finished.

Our favorite syrup is finished.

We ran out of syrup.

Many months ago, I noticed our favorite pancake syrup was on sale at our local grocery store. Upon closer look, I discovered that our syrup was no longer going to be carried. So, I did what any passionate, brand-loyal, syrup aficionado would do: I bought every single bottle left.

When our supply began to run low, my husband and I began to guard each drop. What would we do without our beloved syrup? Every syrup is NOT created equal, and it had taken us years, and suffering through some rather terrible brands, to find the perfect topping to drizzle on our pancakes.

As we opened the last bottle, I knew drastic action was needed, so I hopped onto Amazon to hunt down our next bottle.

That’s when I learned our favorite syrup was discontinued by the maker. There were no more bottles.

Our syrup bottle ran dry. And, now, we are forced to use an imitation of the syrup we really loved.

It’s not the same.

I think many Christians are exactly like this empty syrup bottle. We experience the love of Jesus personally, intimately, deeply, and our lives change. We are His. We gobble up everything we can to know God better, faithfully attending church and Bible studies, growing by leaps and bounds. We are on fire for God! He has rescued us from a life without purpose and given us Kingdom work.

Then, our spiritual fervor begins to plateau. We know what we need to do, and begin to act out of duty rather than desire. It gets easy to skip a day or two of reading our Bible, and soon prayer is saved for interceding for the sick, rather than moment-by-moment communication. We still love the Lord, we just aren’t as excited about it anymore.

Finally, our hearts become dry. We begin going through the motions. We are so thirsty for something to fill us, even though we’re stuffed by our own agendas, over-filled family schedules and church committee obligations. It’s been a long time since we’ve felt the joy that comes from knowing Jesus. Imitation spirituality is causing us to starve.

We forget that from Jesus, streams of living water flow. We misplace our invitation to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. We depend on our own strength and our own ability, and end up empty.

Though I wish our syrup bottle was the same way, our souls can always be filled to overflowing.

Consider these two Scripture passages:

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

Jesus is ready to fill us, to use us and to fill us again.

Our favorite syrup brand discontinued the product, but God never gives up on us. He is always shaping us, stretching us, standing with us. His spring of life-giving water never runs dry.

Staying connected to the source is the key.

 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”

John 15:4-5, 11

Don’t settle for spiritual dryness today. Seek shelter in God’s love.

Abide in Him.