This video recently appeared on Facebook, and while I rarely click on any of the hundreds of video links posted, this one caught my attention. So, I clicked, and was rewarded with a 1 minute visual parable.
Let me start by saying that, just like with any parable or metaphor, the part of your brain that wants to dissect every detail needs to take a coffee break. The story here speaks loudly to one big idea: grace! Grace is a term we regularly toss around church settings and conversations, but like many of the terms we use, it is sometimes a difficult concept to wrap our hearts and minds around. God’s grace is magnificent, powerful, overwhelming, vast…but, left in the abstract, its power in our lives is minimized. Not until grace takes shape in the physical world and is demonstrated right in front of us does it have its intended effect.
In the video, the little bears are in desperate need. Without intervention, there is no hope of rescue from what appeared to be a fine lunch, but turned out to be a death trap (sound familiar?) So here it is…The Cross is a ladder and God is a couple of people in a pickup truck. And sometimes in our lives, that is EXACTLY what we see and experience. Our rescue from the garbage dumpster we have made of our lives comes from someone in a pickup, with a ladder, who represents the living extension of that grace that first appeared on Calvary. Pastors, Christian workers, staff members at churches, and missionaries are not immune to the dumpster’s allure. Like anyone else, our appetites may overcome our ability to weigh the consequences and we dive in for that tasty morsel that we think we cannot live without. Lives are ruined, our shiny coats are covered in last week’s rancid potato salad and hope vanishes. For some, a ladder appears: people – who themselves have caught a glimpse of God’s grace – back their truck up and extend a hand, a place at the table, a warm and knowing smile (Colossians 3:12-14).
Sometimes we get caught up in trying to figure out how the little bears got into the mess in the first place, or why the momma bear didn’t take more care. None of that speculation matters when the only outcome without grace is death. There will be time to learn a different way. Some fear that extending grace and forgiveness condones what the offender has done, thinking “They should have known better than to go climbing in after nasty leftovers!” If that was God’s perspective, we would all be rotting at the bottom of the dumpster with the bananas. As my wife is often fond of saying, forgiveness is precisely for things that never should have happened. It doesn’t mean that it never happened… it did.
The little bears were in real trouble, and someone brought a ladder. Is there someone in your life who could use a ladder today?