One of the most famous painters of the Victorian era was named Sir Edwin Landseer. A child prodigy, he had the first showing of his work at the Royal Academy at the ripe old age of thirteen. How good was he? Well, he gave private drawing lessons to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and created many portraits of the Royal Family. But he is probably best known for his works depicting animals and nature. If you’ve visited Trafalgar Square in London you’ve seen Landseer’s Lions, the four majestic bronze statues surrounding Lord Admiral Nelson’s column in the official center of London. His depictions of lions are my favorites of his works.
In her book Springs in the Valley, L. B. E. Cowman relates a story of Landseer visiting some friends at an old Scottish Mansion. An accident had left a large stain on the wall in one of the sitting rooms. One day Landseer asked to remain behind when the family went out for the day. While they were gone, the master drew an incredible image of a woodland scene with a waterfall, incorporating the stain in a way that highlighted it as a focal point. The family returned to find that the guest they had welcomed into their home had made something beautiful and valuable out of an ugly mess.
That brings us to our verse for the day:
MY GRACE IS ALL YOU NEED
Whether you’re a genius or a dunce, stunningly beautiful or strikingly ugly; you and I face the same problem. It doesn’t matter if you grew up on the Massai Plains of Kenya or the fruited plains of Kansas; same problem. Beautiful mansion or grass hut; same problem.
We – you and I – have stained our lives with sin. Like a massive stain on the wall, there it sits. Sin. Yuck. Like most walls of your home, it may not be visible from outside. But you and I don’t live outside our lives; we live inside of them, and we see the massive stains that others may miss. (Don’t be fooled, by the way, more of your sin is visible from the outside than you’d care to believe.)
We think we need to deal with things in our life on our own, to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, so to speak. That approach may work with some things, but it never works with sin. We need God’s grace.
GRACE. I like to describe it with this acronym – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. (If you’re a regular reader of my devotionals, you probably already knew this acronym. A note for those reading this in one of the translations, it’s probably NOT an acronym in your language; so you’ll need to think of a different memory tool.) GRACE is the solution to our problem. In fact, it is the ONLY solution to our sin problem. It is also so much more.
GRACE takes the mess we’ve made in our lives and transforms it into something beautiful. God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. He doesn’t need the stain to work good in our lives. He who spoke the entire universe into existence doesn’t require our mess-ups to create anything. He’s going to re-create them, too; and the bible says it will take about as much effort for Him as changing out of a bathrobe.
No, He doesn’t need our screw-ups. But, like Landseer’s mural, what’s amazing about God is that He takes what was ugly and useless and converts it into something He can use beautifully.
The process is sometimes difficult, even painful. But God is the God of all grace. ALL GRACE. And His grace is all you need.
It is His GRACE that enters our life and cleanses us from sin when we invite Him in. His GRACE is our salvation.
It is His GRACE that keeps strengthening us; Christ gives us grace upon grace. His GRACE is our rejuvenation.
It is His GRACE that keeps encouraging us; Christ calls us to His glory. His GRACE is our transformation.
It is His GRACE that keeps working in us; Christ never abandons us. His GRACE is our confirmation.
It is His GRACE that places His gifts in us; Christ equips us to serve Him. His GRACE is our preparation.
It is His GRACE that is displayed before the world; Christ’s masterpiece. His GRACE.
John the Apostle talks about grace and truth coming through Christ, and that Jesus gives us GRACE UPON GRACE. The Greek phraseology there is tough to translate into English. But it means to say that when the first grace is used up and empty, He gives us new grace that is fresh and strong. At least that’s the Bishop Robert Version. 🙂
He continues to conform us into His image by His grace, because His grace is all you need. All of the riches of Christ, everything He has for you, wants for you, has designed for you — ALL of these are found, established and operate in you by GOD’S GRACE.
When you begin to understand GRACE, you’ll be less stressful and more fruitful. God will use His grace to restore you, to confirm you, to strengthen you and to establish you. He is the God who gives grace upon grace upon grace.
And when He says MY GRACE IS ALL YOU NEED, He means it !! ALL means “all” – really !
So invite the Master into your life. Of course He will see the large, ugly stains. You’ve tried to cover them up, but that solution was a temporary one at best. But welcoming Him and inviting Him to work His work in you — THAT IS ALL YOU NEED.
His masterful and transformative work will be His initial gift to you – ashes into beauty. Then He will continue to pour more grace into you, more gifts that will allow you to reflect His glory. Then He will strengthen you as you use these gifts serving Him by serving one another, being a good steward of the GRACE OF GOD.
One of the names for God is THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH. Landseer’s lions may be massive and stunningly beautiful. But the lions that God is creating — strong, powerful, majestic, gifted — are more so. They are alive.
HIS GRACE IS ALL YOU NEED
I’ll close today with the words of the Apostle Paul: “Now I entrust you to God and the message of HIS GRACE, because that message is able to build you up and give you what belongs to you as God’s people.”