My husband has a friend named Jesse James, with a twin brother named Frank. No joke. Apart from his name, Jesse doesn’t resemble the notorious train robber of the nineteenth century. But his four-year-old grandson, Lucas may be trying to get by with a little outlaw spirit.
In Lucas’ preschool this year, he heard about a boy who’d received nothing but coal in his stocking, and it worried Lucas. What if he hadn’t measured up to Santa’s standards? Would his stocking, as well as the huge, glistening box under the tree be stuffed with black lumps?
As he opened each gift from his stocking on Christmas, his fingers trembled. Candy. Hot Wheels. Erasable crayons. That wasn’t so bad.
Now, to see what the package under the tree held. In spite of his doubt, Lucas ripped apart the sparkling red paper to reveal… a battery-powered four-wheeler, the #1 request on his list!
Collapsing on the floor, he hugged himself and laughed, his gingerbread eyes dancing.
“What are you laughing about?” asked his mom.
“Because it’s so funny.”
“What’s so funny, Lucas?”
Pointing at the four-wheeler, he hooted, “I was bad this year, and I still got really good stuff!”
Although Lucas may’ve thought he tricked Santa, he sets an example about receiving God’s grace.
You probably know Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But have you read verse 24? “…God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity, He put us in right standing with Himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be. And He did it by means of Jesus Christ (The Message).”
God erased our sins by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice in our place. Just as Lucas couldn’t measure up to the standard of perfection he thought Santa required, we can’t measure up to God’s standard of perfection. We simply open the package of His love by admitting we can’t save ourselves. Then, in spite of our doubts, we ask Him to take over our lives.
That’s when He changes us from outlaws to His kids. It’s His best gift, wrapped in the package of a man named Jesus. He calls it “grace,” and it sure beats a sock full of hard black stuff.