True Grace

Imagine an estate, situated upon the crest of an austere hill. It is covered in vines and is in quite a state of disrepair. The lawn is overgrown and unkempt and the bushes have not been trimmed in ages. The flowerbeds have been invaded by scores of weeds. The carpets within are old and worn. The chandelier is strung with cobwebs. The windows have been concealed in several layers of dirt and dust and they let in only slivers of musty light. Old newspapers and books lie in precarious stacks all around the house. Everything is covered in a layer of dust and filth and the kitchen has been overtaken by dirty dishes.

The owner of this house (we’ll call him Louis) doesn’t mind in the least that his manor is so unkempt and filthy. Nor does he really care that it serves no other purpose than to satisfy his own needs and desires. He actually really enjoys it this way. It is comfortable and secure and he is quite satisfied with how he manages his property. After all, at least he still is in control of his own property. He doesn’t have to listen to someone else. He is free from the tyranny of a lord or master who would tell him how to manage the house.

One day Louis decided to take a walk in the fading light of a fall afternoon, and as he was enjoying the crisp country air he noticed that his dearest friend had a new sign up in his yard. It simply stated, “Under the management of Jesus Christ”. He stopped and stared at the sign for a few moments. He was considerably vexed at his friend. How could he do this?! Louis had heard of this Jesus fellow. And he sounded like quite a bore. He made those who were under his authority make all sorts of changes to their homes and lifestyles. Now who was going to come over and play cards with him on Friday nights? Who was going to come with him to the pub on Sunday evenings? As Louis glared at his friend’s estate he noticed that it was looking different. The lawn had been trimmed recently. It looked like someone had finally fixed that gutter that had been hanging from the roof for ages. The fence had been cleared of vines and weeds. And he had to admit that it was looking substantially nicer than his own house. But who cared?! At least he wasn’t under the authority of someone. At least he still had his freedom.

The next morning just as Louis was cracking open his egg for breakfast his friend dropped by for a visit. He seemed to be healthier and happier than usual. He was wearing simple and inexpensive clothes rather than the extravagantly expensive one he usually sported. And his face was beaming with joy and love. His eyes shone forth a contentment and peace that had never been there before. This was drastically different from the man who Louis used to know. His usually dour and somewhat cynical friend had been completely transformed. He asked his dear friend what was wrong with him. Why had he given up his freedom and given the keys of his estate to this Jesus fellow?

His friend carefully removed a stack of ancient newspapers from a chair and dragged it over to the table. He sat down and with an exuberant smile began to explain why he had made this drastic and seemingly foolish decision. He told Louis of how he had been behind on his payments for quite a few years and how his debt had become quite considerable. He had begun to sink into a depression and had been unsatisfied with all of the usual activities that used to bring him such happiness. He was quickly approaching the day when he was going to lose his house to the banks and he had no way of lifting himself out of such a quandary. He had no way of getting out of this pit of despair.

Then one day he had a visitor to his house. It was Jesus. He knocked on his door and offered him a new life. A life that would be free of debts, that would joyful and satisfying and life that would be useful and fulfilling. He offered to lift him from his depression and misery. And all that he had to do was hand over the keys to his estate. He had to turn over every last acre of property. Every last room and closet would be under the authority of Jesus. At first he had scoffed at such a notion and said that it was ridiculous. Why would he want to give up his authority of his manor to another? But Jesus spoke words that pierced his heart. They resonated with truth. And he began to realize that he needed to do this. There was a reason he was miserable and neck-deep in dept. And here was a man offering to bring him out of this misery and despondency.

With a great inward struggle he slowly handed over the keys to his precious estate. His hands were trembling and sweat trickled down his brow. And there was a voice inside his head that screamed to stop, to just pocket the keys and carry on with his life. But he ignored it and when he dropped the keys into Jesus’ hands it was as if a great weight was lifted from his chest. He felt free. He no longer had to worry about how he was going to pay his debts. He no longer felt dissatisfied with his life. Jesus took the keys and then put a strong hand upon his shoulder and led him around the house, explaining the changes that need to be made. They were hard changes. He quaked with fear at the thought of doing some of these things that Jesus asked him. However he knew that Jesus was right, and he was going to trust Him.

Louis’ friend stopped his explanation. He stared into Louis’ eyes and simply told him that he needed to do the same. Louis started to argue and denounce his friend as a lunatic but he knew that his friend had gained something. Even though his friend had given everything, he had gained something so much more. He admitted that he needed help and that he was also unhappy and deep in debt. He was racked with anxiety and fear and he was deeply dissatisfaction with his life.

Later that evening as Louis was sitting by the dying embers of his fire and he heard a knock upon his door. His heart lurched within his chest and he sat for a moment while an epic battle was waged within his soul. He conquerred his fears however and it was with great trembling and anxiety of heart and soul that he stood up grabbed the keys to his from his coat pocket and walked to the door. He knew what he had to do.

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