A Garment of Grace

By: Jill Briscoe

Back in the sixties when masses of street people came to Christ and into the church, people made such a fuss over them as they gave their testimonies and sang their weird music.  Meanwhile, good little church kids who had always obeyed and stayed close to home watched with resentment.  No one had ever killed the fattened calf for them!

There is another story that illustrates how very difficult the fattened calf can be.  A woman I met at a conference told me how she was sexually abused as a small child by her father.  She grew up, overcame the emotional damage that had been done, and eventually married a missionary.  Years later, after her children were fully grown, she received a letter from her father telling her he had become a Christian and had asked God for forgiveness and received it.  He had, moreover, realized he had sinned dreadfully against her, and was writing to ask for her pardon.

Feelings she didn’t know were there suddenly surfaced.  It wasn’t fair!  He should pay for what he had done, she thought bitterly.  It was all too easy.  And now he was going to be part of the family!  She was sure her home church was busy killing the fattened calf for him and that she would be invited to the party!  She was angry, resentful, and determined “she would not go in.”

Then she had a dream.  She saw her father standing on an empty stage.  Above him appeared the hands of God and in them a white robe of righteousness.  She recognized it at once, for she was wearing one just like it!  As the robe began to descend toward her father, she woke up crying out, “No!  It isn’t fair!  What about me?”

The only way she could finally rejoice, as her heavenly Father “pleaded” with her to do, was to realize that her earthly father was now wearing the same robe that she was.  They were the same in God’s sight.  It had cost His Son’s life to provide both those robes.  As she began to see her father clothed with the garments of grace, she was able to begin to rejoice.

The fact is, we brothers and sisters in Christ need each other.  If we wear the same robe, we must learn to work together for the Father’s sake.  There are people in the far country who need us—people still mired in the muck of the pigsty.  They are waiting to hear the good news.  If we can unite our hearts as we share the Father’s inheritance, then we are well on the way to delighting His heart.  He loves to look down from heaven and see living harmony between His own.

My mother used to say that when she had gone she wanted only one thing from my sister and me.  She wanted to know we would keep in touch and work on our relationship.  I never really understood why she felt so strongly about it until I had my own three children.  Now they are adults and I too work hard at promoting harmony and understanding among them.  History repeats itself as I ask them to continue working on loving each other after I am no longer here.

Both of the prodigal sons (yes, there were really two) were running on empty!  Both had wandered away.  Yet the love of their father never wavered.  And the same is true for us.  The Father is waiting with open arms.  His Son died for all prodigals, and He and His angels rejoice when each one returns home to Him.  And He wants us to rejoice together when that happens.  We can make Him happy by making Calvary worthwhile.

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine.