For most of the summer our backyard trampoline was littered with balls. Big ones, bouncy ones, little ones, tiger-striped balls, softballs, neon green balls, whiffle balls, Spiderman balls, juggling balls, even a stress ball thrown in for good measure.
Months ago a friend and her children visited, and our basket full of balls (my attempt to contain the craziness of boy stuff through organization – a ball basket) was brought from the playroom to the trampoline.
A contained arena of bouncy-ball happiness ensued.
This herd of mismatched balls created lots of fun times on the trampoline. Our younger, more social son doesn’t like bouncing alone, but with the dozens of colorful balls on the trampoline, he would spend a half hour jumping away the bouncy joy.
I finally went on too, curious to see if I could out-bounce the balls. I learned that wherever I walked on the trampoline surface became the lowest point, and the copious balls followed my feet like tie-dyed, pudgy poodles looking for treats, lapping over my toes in round determination.
No matter where I bounced, where I walked on the trampoline, the balls followed. Gathered around my bare feet.
They had to. It was their nature, their shape, the way they rolled.
After a bit, I found the ball pile-on frustrating, and I was glad to get off that springy surface and leave the clingy bouncy balls behind.
A few days ago I had a discussion with a much-loved family member. This woman and I go way, way back. We worked together and talked about many things spiritual, relational, and chocolate-al through the two decades we’ve known each other. She’s watched me grow up (I hope), and supported me during times she didn’t need to, showing grace and forgiveness across situations in which I’m not sure I could have done the same.
Recently this beloved family member went through a very difficult time. She said some things in frustration and anger to another person that she deeply regretted. (In her defense, I would probably have said and done the same thing, given the situation, but that’s not the point.)
The point is she’s been dogged by surprise at her angry, emotional reaction and has deep regret about that conversation, wishing she could take her words back and soften the resulting bitter relationship.
When we talked about the situation, we discussed how the deeply inlaid nature in us – our sin nature, the one that, like it or not, we’re born with – can come out and surprise us.
The sin nature that follows us around like the bouncy balls shadowing feet on the trampoline. Always there. Always ready to roll over us when we’re at the lowest point where we stand.
I read this quote this morning, as this blog post was percolating. “The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“God made His own Son “to be sin” that he might make the sinner a saint… a man cannot redeem himself – redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete.” ~ O. Chambers
It doesn’t cost us a lifetime of hard labor. It doesn’t cost us a paycheck a month. Grace costs us nothing, yet it cost God everything.
But it’s offered to all sinners who believe. Free.
Thank You Lord, for the redemptive work of the Cross. Thank You Jesus, that your shoulders held the sin of humanity – our ugly nature – and defeated it. Thank You Holy Spirit, that You work in us to accomplish God’s work in this broken world, many times despite ourselves.