Our Own Personal Guide. Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (9:30-32)

Our Own Personal Guide. Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (9:30-32)


stained-glass windows

"How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling." Romans 9:30-32 (MSG)

Religious activities are worthless if they are based on our own ideas or are done in our own interest. Moses learned this the hard say: "Time passed. Moses grew up. One day he went and saw his brothers, saw all that hard labor. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew-one of his relatives! He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand." Exodus 2:11-12 (MSG). After all, wasn't he chosen to be the deliverer? At that time in his life, however, he was not pursuing God, and rather than following God's plan, he had his own ideas about how to deliver Israel. The result? He ended up running away from Egypt to save his own skin, and he watched as his hope for Israel's deliverance evaporated like a vapor in the desert. It was only after the burning bush experience that Moses realized that our Father loved him, as well as all of Israel, very deeply; and with this realization, he began to put his trust in our Heavenly Father and to seek and follow His guidance.

Our own religious activities, if not God-directed, will also end up evaporating like vapors in the desert. God's assigned activities, however, will last, and will be a blessing to everyone involved. After all, it's not about us, it's about our Father: "Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Rom 8:34).

We had just finished visiting the church of Colonial Guell, a masterpiece designed by the famous Antonio Gaudi, and next on our agenda was a visit to an old castle nearby. Unfortunately for us, our attempts to locate the ruins of this castle only resulted in us turning in circles, completely lost. We noticed an elderly lady walking towards us, and in my broken Spanish, I asked her for directions to the old castle.

We would learn that she was 84 years old; nonetheless, she smiled and declared herself our self-appointed guide for the day. As we made our way back into town, she began to teach us about trees, even showing us how to find and harvest pine nuts. Even though she spoke no English and our Spanish was poor indeed, somehow she made us understand. Wow!

As we neared the forest that hid the castle, she showed us two buildings. One was older, but the other was brand-new. She said something in Spanish, which made us understand that these buildings were special; but we didn't understand why. We did understand by her gestures, however, that we were to follow her into the newer building, and before we knew it, she had asked a nurse in the office of what we would soon learn was a nursing home, to give us a guided tour. Despite the fact that we didn't speak the language, we were instantly a big hit with the residents.

Upon completion of the nursing home tour, our guide continued towards our desired destination, and we proceeded to enjoy the view of this lovely but abandoned castle.

While we were heading back to our car, she made us understand one primary complaint that she had. Although she spoke in Spanish, we understood the gist of her message: "Visiting the Colonial Guell church should be free. It is, after all, God's house!"

We were close to our car by this time, and she hugged us as if we were her long-lost children and bade us farewell. What a lovely lady. When she saw us, she recognized that God had given her a mission. Thanks to her, we were included in a blessing that went out to all the people at that nursing home, and this was way more important than visiting a ruined castle. We are, after all, here to encourage one another, and as we recognized the hand of God in all of this, we felt truly blessed. In the end, it's all about Him!

We miss this energetic Spanish lady who taught us a very important lesson: To care about others-all the time!

Hey! Tourists in view!

What will you do?

Rob Chaffart

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