Casting Lots for Grace

Tonight was just one of those nights where the external demands conspired with the internal expectations to form one cataclysmic melt down.  I had been running for days solely on caffeine and a color coordinated calendar app.  Like a perfect storm, it all came together around what I call “crazy time”- the hours when school transitions to home, man transitions from work, day winds into evening and all those “to-do’s” are either “done’s” or beacons of “you failed”.  I still wanted to prove them wrong so I held to my commitment for a “healthy meal”.  Despite the negative barometer readings, I pressed on.  “Besides- this is one of those ‘easy’, quick, Pampered Chef meals” I assured myself.

I chopped, I stirred, I mixed and steamed.  And I got interrupted every 30 seconds with the fussy, the whining, the sibling battle, the barking, the ringing phone, the dinging door, and the homework help.  I heaved a big sigh after the 987th interruption and reached for the heavy whipping cream, which is the crux of this “easy” quick dinner.  The carton expired a month ago.  Yep, expired.  “Great- just great… .”  So, I being the perfectly under-control housewife and bound and determined mom-of the year, I googled.   I typed in: “substitutions for heavy whipping cream”.  {oh my, Google has everything}  Grabbing the easiest one I could find, I set back to work.  I mixed it all up and put it in my deep baker and plopped my meal into the microwave for 15 minutes.  I turned around, feeling a bit more in control of life and continued on the path of obligations: sorting through the latest in sibling drama, checking my steaming veggies, explaining the basics of addition and of course , setting the table.

Ding.

Grabbing the hot dish I hollered, “OK!  Come and Eat”.  As the steam dissipated it became obvious.

{GASP}

The noodles were literally glued to the bottom of the baking dish.  All the fat from my substitution was floating in clumps at the top.  It looked absolutely disgusting.  {Insert melt down here}

I came unglued.  My day unraveled.  It was embarrassingly hideous.  And I got sent to time out.  I am so NOT kidding, I went to time out.  I sulked in the corner about all that had gone wrong, blaming all the interruptions.  “It never ends “, I chanted, “the line of needs, the demands for time, the exhaustion, the attempts I make and the failure that ensues…”.   I cried out for a reprieve.  I begged God to show me how to navigate these obligations, this life, without crumbling under the weight.

chair by Kevin Bond

Echoing in the dark places of my mind was the cliché:  “find grace at the foot of the cross.”  At first I blew past it, chalking it up to another platitude.  But hungry for help I followed the lead.

The Cross is a beautiful and incredibly intimidating place.  On it, my savior, bleeding out my redemption and breathing in the weight of my failures.  Above Him, the circling dark clouds of cosmic change.  Around Him are mourners and thieves, murderers and worshipers.  But at His feet you’ll find those who are casting lots.  Offended at what I perceived as their disrespect of the most sacred of moments, I wanted to look elsewhere for my answer but couldn’t turn away.

“And they crucified Him.  Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.” Mark 15:24

Casting Lots, a method used to make a decision, was a very common practice.  Israel’s first King had been decided by casting lots.  Priests and their duties were decided by casting lots.  Even Jesus’ beloved disciples used this method a few months later to decide who would replace Judas among their ranks.   God’s people trusted His hand through this game of throwing dice or drawing straws to direct their everyday steps.  Casting Lots was a way to navigate obligations and sort through decisions.  Yet, after the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 the practice all but disappears.

Jesus’ cross ushered in a better way to navigate, sort and live.  His blood paved the way for the Holy Spirit full of grace.

“For all… fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace….” Rom. 3:23-24

Desperate, I kept digging still not getting it.  In this verse, the Greek word for Grace is “Charis” and it means: the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in life.

Christ came, taught truth, set us free and became our redemptive sacrifice.  He brought Grace through the Holy Spirit.  We have His indwelling.  Personalize that verse in Romans and it reads: “Nope, you my dear do fall short and you will every time on your own, but you are freely justified by my divine influence on your heart and it will reflect in your life”.

Divine influence.

When you look at the foot of the cross you will find spilled blood and bent straws.  You have the choice to substitute games for grace; hope for a good roll of the dice or choose to succumb to His Divine Influence.

I had cast lots hoping God will use my substitution to bring about fruit.  I can’t fake grace.  It isn’t a reprieve or a game.  Grace can only be given by the One who bled.  There is tolerance and then there is grace. You tolerate substitutions but you thrive in grace.  Grace is the power to live in the midst of obligations, decisions, moments.

I stood up out of time out and still had to “fix” dinner.   Hungry and fussy children were still waiting.  Setting aside the game of substitutions I sought my Grace-giver and His divine influence.

Grace Cathedral

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