Grace: The Power of a Redemption Story!
by Les Ferguson, Jr
I don’t watch a lot of TV. Consequently, I often miss things that are culturally relevant. I hear about TV shows and have no clue about them at all. People talk about movies and actors and I just kind of nod my head because more often than not, I have no idea who or what they are talking about.
Even when a movie comes along that grabs my attention, I rarely make the time to see it. In fact, I cannot at this moment remember the last movie I saw.
The truth is, I am a nerd and would rather read a good book.
That I can talk about with ease.
So while my grasp of popular culture is fairly tenuous, I am somewhat aware of a Discovery channel program called Dirty Jobs. Instead of trying to explain something I have never really watched, the following comes directly from the show’s website…
Welcome to Dirty Jobs, the new Discovery Channel series that profiles the unsung American laborers who make their living in the most unthinkable – yet vital – ways. Our brave host and apprentice Mike Rowe will introduce you to a hardworking group of men and women who overcome fear, danger and sometimes stench and overall ickiness to accomplish their daily tasks. Not one to just stand by, each week, Rowe will assume the duties of the jobs he’s profiling, working alongside rattlesnake catchers, fish processors, bee removers, septic-tank technicians and other professionals: average folks tackling extraordinary tasks that simply must get done. But you’ll walk away from Dirty Jobs with more than just a glimpse into unfamiliar occupational duties… If you’re like us, you’ll also gain a new understanding and appreciation for all the often-unpleasant functions someone is shouldering to make your everyday life easier, safer – and often cleaner.
I know there are plenty of jobs out there I wouldn’t want to do.
But, I’d like to suggest maybe the nastiest, dirtiest job of all is one done by God…
The job is grace.
We typically define grace as unmerited favor.
The definition itself ought to tell us ahead of time that grace is a dirty and rough business. Giving grace means giving people what they need not necessarily what they deserve.
Speaking of movies I have seen, remember Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? Like the movie tried to convey, the Crucifixion wasn’t a death penalty punishment meant to impart death from a “let’s-try-and-spare-the-punished-any-overt-pain” kind of experience. To the contrary, far from humane, it was intended to inflict massive emotional, mental, and physical suffering—a total annihilation of body, soul, and spirit. For those who had to watch one live and in person, it must have been a spiritual gut-punch.
Hopefully you are managing a visceral grasp on the ugliness Jesus endured, because there was nothing rougher or more difficult than the grace procured by the Cross…
Did I mention it was a dirty job?
It is always a dirty job.
Grace means getting down into the filth and ugliness of our world.
Worse, grace means there are no rubber gloves and boots to protect you from the showers and splatters of filth that will come.
That’s what Jesus did.
That’s what we are called to do.
I wish I lived in a sterile, clean, antiseptic environment, but I don’t.
Sometimes I whine, complain, and get all twisted up.
Sometimes I act ugly, mean, or spiteful.
Sometimes I am selfish and heartless.
Sometimes I experience/ endure heartache.
And because I am fundamentally flawed and broken, I need grace.
I need grace from God.
I need grace from you.
Yes, grace is a dirty job.
But it’s grace that takes away our guilt and shame.
It’s grace that says, “I love you.”
It’s grace that says, “I forgive you.”
It’s grace that takes broken stories and breathes into them the new life of redemption.
It’s grace that takes our pain and humiliation and turns it inside out.
It’s grace that redeems our story and makes it into something different, something useful, and something of service.
It’s grace that wipes away our tears.
It’s grace that empowers our own acts of forgiveness.
In the heartache of brokenness, I am thankful for the God who could not be pushed away by my anger and pain.
I am thankful for the grace of God.
It’s a dirty job, but it is the power of my redemption.
It’s a dirty job but it’s my story…
Les Ferguson, Jr.
After the double murder of his wife and disabled son in October 2011, Les stepped down from a full time preaching ministry to focus on holding his family together and building a new life. He has since married his childhood sweetheart, Becki. Together they are raising four boys, Conner (18), Michael (17), Max (14), and Casey (9). His oldest son, Kyle (29) is married and lives in Memphis, TN. Les eventually re-entered the ministry and began working with the Lake Harbor Drive Church of Christ in Ridgeland, Mississippi as their Senior Preaching Minister in April 2014. Since the end of January 2013, Les has been writing a widely read blog, Desperately Wanting To Believe Again that explores faith, questions, doubt, and pain from a Biblical/ real world perspective. He is currently writing a book while building a speaking career to encourage and help all who struggle with faith and doubt. You can also read him as a featured author for Wineskins.org.