I started an annual tradition several years ago. I read through the Bible with one of my children or grandchildren in mind. Each morning, as I do my Bible reading for the day, I ask God to show me things, verses, thoughts, messages, for that particular kid. I finished Josh’s Bible in 2015, Jacob’s in 2016, and so on. Got the sons and daughters-in-law. I working through the grandkids now.
I also use a marking system. I have 5 colored highlighters. Pink is for His promises. Blue for words about the Holy Spirit. Orange is for the things that God says about our identity. (“This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” That was an easy one for all five of the boys.) The two markers I have used the most are yellow and green. With the yellow marker, I highlight all of the verses (and there are a bunch of them) where God calls me to works and holy living. “Therefore, I will judge each one of you, O children of Israel, according to your actions. Repent and turn from your sins.” (Ezekiel 18:30) And the green marker is for grace. (Get it? Pink for promises. Green for grace.) Every verse in the Bible that smacks of the great grace of God, I mark in green. “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:8,12) “Jon-Mical,” I wrote, “God loves you to the moon and back again and He has taken away EVERY bad thing you have done.” Yea, God!
Okay, have you got the picture? Well, today, on November the 8th, I ran out of green ink. I start each year with a new set of pens. If you get the good Bics they will last all year and they won’t bleed through the pages. But today, almost 2 months before the end of the year, I ran out of green ink. And I began to weep!
I don’t know if you know it or not but 2020 has been a pretty rough year. I think all of us are just about done with it. I had a friend who said about a month ago, “I’m eating Turkey on Friday, putting up a tree on Saturday, singing Auld Lang Syne on Sunday, and calling this year over on Monday.” I know the feeling. It’s been hard. And I confess, I have become a little fearful, or agitated, or frustrated…you name the emotion. And then, this morning I ran out of green ink. It dawned on me, even in the middle of this really rough time, the GRACE OF GOD, is so present, so pervasive, so promised, that I don’t have enough ink in my pen to mark all the verses. Still got blue for the Holy Spirit. Still got yellow for the stuff I need to do better. But I ran slap out of green because there are so many places where God speaks His grace over me. That pretty much had me in big, old crocodile tears.
I know we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders sometimes. I know that it can get dark and dim and we can start to wonder if He is even listening. But He is! And He is so GRACE-FULL that it just pours over on us in more ways and more places than we can imagine until we start to look for it. “My GRACE is sufficient for you and My strength is made perfect in your weakness,” He says. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Or, “We are justified FREELY by His GRACE that comes through the redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24) “And we know that in ALL things God works for the GOOD of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28, and don’t tell me that grace is not in that verse.) It is all over the place, His grace, dumped out on us.
Now, one more thing, this year I have become a scorekeeper. I have marked down with my little red pen, every time somebody has offended me, cut me off in traffic, posted something really stupid on FaceBook. I have kept score of all those things that people have done that got my ire up. (I’ve almost run out of red ink too!) It seemed God said to me, “You should be running out of green ink!” Instead of keeping score, making lists, taking offense, I should be marking all these things in green. Grace! Guy chews me out because my leaves blow into his yard? Grace. Woman gets mad and leaves a mean review about Branches? Grace. Doris uses my favorite tennis tee shirt for a dust rag? Well, okay. Grace. And somebody posts a FaceBook message that goes against my way of thinking? Yep, Grace. Green ink all over the place.
So, I’m stopping at the store today to buy another green Bic highlighter. I think I’ll get two. One to mark all of the places where God has extended grace to me. And the other for all of the places where I need to do the same! Here’s the benediction today from my daily devotional book, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants, “May grace, mercy, love and peace flow through your life and ministry all day long. Amen”