Efforts and Grace

I was reminded of several interrelated things today. First, I was sad that an irresistible swarm of cabbage leave worms attacked and consumed every leaf of  Kale and Turnip greens in my garden. I have bees, so I could not fight them with insecticide and organic methods were useless against such a horde. Then I considered a volunteer watermelon plant that came up all on its own and produced three giant watermelons in just a couple weeks. At this time my granddaughters were catching grasshoppers in the yard and containing them in overturned cups on the drive. When I told them their mother was on her way to pick them up, they ran out to the driveway to move their precious menagerie of grasshoppers. Finally, out of the blue I remembered a tax case I worked on about twenty years ago. It involved a gain that resulted from a massive liquidation, distribution and reorganization of a multinational consolidated group. The gain was overlooked due to complex basis computations and rarely applicable sections of tax law. The representative attorney maintained that he did not understand the issue, though it was fully explained in a report with a description of the issue, facts, law, argument and conclusion. Of course, it is not necessary to agree with a tax position, as the facts, law or argument can each be disputed. What made this event memorable was that he prevailed with no other position than “he did not understand the issue.”

Then, I realized all these observances and recollections had a theme – we attribute concern for the fruit of our labors – but that which we receive by grace is often ignored or welcomed with less gratitude. Perhaps its why we spend so much effort trying to be happy or content in this world, even though we recognize that this world is not our home and our true longing and destination is with the Lord in Heaven. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-6)

Lord, show us where and how best to expend our efforts and to be led by your Spirit. We thank you that all things work for our good as we love you and are called according to your purpose. Forgive us for not recognizing all the grace you give us each day. Help us to put more faith and hope in your grace than our efforts.