I put “Grace” here because this story is near and dear to my heart.
One Monday morning, while talking with Jesus, I blurted out, “Okay, I’m not going to beat around the bush anymore. May I have a twelve-string guitar?”
When I’d checked at Bernie’s Guitar earlier in the year I told the owner that I wasn’t a professional, and didn’t ever expect to be. I wanted a guitar that sounded good but wasn’t very expensive. He recommended a Sammick he had on sale for less than $300. I told Wendel about it on Wednesday, and he suggested that I check to see if it was still available.
The next day I stopped by – only to discover that Bernie’s was out of business. I had my answer, and it was “no.” Cool. I was willing to accept that.
On Friday morning at 7 a.m., an old friend of the family, Jerry, called me.
“Hey, Tami, I was wondering – I have a twelve-string guitar. I think you were the last one to play it about ten years ago. Do you want it?”
My initial reaction was to say, “No, that’s okay.” Then I remembered that I’d asked Abba Father for one. Here was the answer to my request, so instead I said, “Jerry, I’d love to have that guitar.” We made arrangements to get together later that day so I could pick it up.
Now, a long time ago I discovered that shopping is the fastest way to become discontent with what I have – so I don’t browse through catalogs or stores just for the fun of it. I price things when I intend to buy, otherwise I avoid this activity like the plague!
Therefore, when I arrived and Jerry had the guitar laid out on the table, all cleaned, polished, and outfitted with new strings, I had no idea what I’d been given. I’d expected a Yamaha or something like it. I knew Jerry and knew it wouldn’t be a piece of junk, whatever it was. I looked at the name on it and said, “A Martin. Nice.” I was clueless!
He gave me the paperwork for the instrument. It required special care to keep it in good working condition – humidity, constant temperature, all that. My head swam with the instructions I was given. It seemed like a bit of an overkill. It was, after all, just a guitar.
When I got home, I pulled out the paperwork to see what exactly I needed to do. On the first page was the purchase information – date, owner, and –gulp– price!
There are only two things I own that cost more than that guitar – my car and my house.
I was speechless. Tears began to flow, and I went into the kitchen, picked up a washcloth and started cleaning out my cupboard. (It’s a thing I do when I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what else to do.)
I went back to the living room and looked at the guitar again. “Lord, I don’t know what to say. This instrument is more than I need. I don’t play well enough to merit such a guitar – and I certainly don’t deserve it. I’ve done nothing to earn it. Thank You; but I have to ask ‘Why?'”
He answered with a single word: “Grace.”
Although I knew the definition of grace: undeserved favor, I’d never really comprehended it. This was the best object lesson in the world.
The rest of the day was spent going from cleaning the kitchen like crazy, to looking at that guitar and tearfully expressing my gratitude to my heavenly Father for His generosity, and back to cleaning again!
A couple of days later, I sensed the Lord say, “I’m so glad you like the guitar. Yes, you understand grace in a way you haven’t in the past. However, I’ve given you a far more valuable Gift – also a gift of grace. Do you value this Gift in the same way?”
I was stunned, cut to the quick. Here I was, an emotional wreck over an instrument. I’d never been undone like this when I considered the Gift God gave me in His Son. I certainly got it now!
The death of Jesus was given to open the way for me to have an intimate relationship with God. His resurrection is my sure hope that because He lives, I will too. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve it. After all, if something was required in exchange, it would no longer be a gift, but a purchase.
The Bible says, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) There’s no place for a superior attitude toward those who do not believe. Even the very faith by which we believe is His present to us.
Grace! What a beautiful gift.
In May of 2013, Jerry was diagnosed with bone cancer. He declined any medical intervention that might delay his homecoming. He traveled with confidence and steadfastness through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, ecstatic with anticipation of what lay ahead. He finally arrived Home on September 2, 2013.
I shall miss him.