When my first grandchild, a beautiful little girl, was born, I was surprised to learn that grandchildren are born with an integrated GPS. All of mine have come thus equipped.
The Grandpa Positioning System can be initiated with a simple smile aimed at the old guy, a pudgy little finger pointing PawPaw in a specific direction, or a cute giggle triggering Granddaddy Gymnastics (which—let grandpas beware—may lead to lumbar consequences).
At one point a few years into my grandfathering career, led by the aforementioned GPS, I found myself, a father of four sons, in the strange position of perusing YouTube videos trying to learn how to French braid a little granddaughter’s silken hair. A major goal, of course, was to do a good braiding job. For an amateur, I did okay. (May I strongly suggest a good comb and dampened hair?) The over-riding goal, however, was to elicit smiles and giggles and hugs. On that score, I did better than okay!
The tricky part of French-braiding hair comes because the good Lord saw fit to give most grandfathers only two hands. The process requires holding at least three strands of hair and a comb, all at the same time while juggling a spray bottle, and not fumbling hair strands, comb, or water sprayer in the process. PawPaw’s fingers found the multitasking to be a bit challenging. But the giggles were wonderful compensation!
“All at the same time” can be a challenge—and not just for grandfathers.
When Jesus came into this world at Bethlehem, the Apostle John describes him as being “full of grace and truth.” In his ministry, Jesus himself makes it clear that those who love and follow him are to be people whose lives are filled with love, grace, compassion, hope, joy, and so much more—all at the same time. What a beautiful braid! But what a challenge!
In that “braid,” so many wonderful qualities are, by the power of God’s Spirit, woven together beautifully. But integral in that lovely weave, a special strand intermingles with the others lending a deeper tone, a richer sheen, and producing in the whole braid a magnificent beauty, lush and lustrous and, at the same time, providing a marvelous strength. That strand is truth.
“Grace and truth.” Our world is in desperate need of both. Real grace. Real truth. Together. Grace separated from truth becomes an anorexic wraith. Or change the image. “Cheap grace” is no more real grace than those pathetic globs of “poultry” Gary Larson once drew in his “Far Side” cartoon under the caption “Boneless Chicken Ranch” were real chickens!
And truth separated from grace? It is cold and hard and brittle, quickly lost as our society tries to force truth to be anything at all that anyone at all might find useful at any given moment at all. Hurling a rabbit off a mountaintop and calling him an eagle won’t help with the landing. Truth matters. But our self-destructive culture is often unwilling to admit that objective truth even exists. Many people don’t want it to exist. And many, because of their approach to life, can’t afford for it to. No wonder Pontius Pilate’s cynical sneer is as modern as tomorrow: “What is truth?” (John 18:38).
But truth does exist, and all genuine truth is God’s truth. The real thing is no chameleon or shape-shifter changing hue or form to fit the latest opinion poll or fashion. We might as well talk about “my gravity” or “my multiplication table” as to spout nonsense about “my truth.”
Accepting the truth about ourselves, our world, our Creator, is the way to life and healing and joy because in our Father, grace and truth are beautifully braided together with love.
You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!
Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.