Bouncy Balls and Grace


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.

Hold on.




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.

Teapot Truth


I reached across the counter, my fingers wrapping around the handle of the Christmas coffee mug. I was craving my daily cup of mint green tea with a squirt of agave, but in mid grab my eyes fell on the shiny new teapot on the stove top. Its gleaming glass called out to me.

I should use that.

It takes too long. Five minutes is an eternity compared to 1:30 in the microwave.

An inner battle broke out, provoked by the guilt-inducing voice reminding me that my parents bought the perky little teapot as a Christmas gift after listening to months of whining that I was tired of heating water in the microwave.

I wanted a teapot, so why wasn’t I using it, and instead doing exactly what I’d complained about?

 “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” ~ Romans 7:15

Too easily I fell back into the old routine. The teapot glinted on the black oven surface, a beacon of hassle that rushed morning. I started the microwave and headed to the laundry room to karate-chop my way through socks and underwear.


Growling at the laundry in my arms, I dropped it and headed back into the kitchen. With a guilty glance at the half-full teapot, I placed the green tea bag into the steaming coffee mug.

That was a Christmas gift you asked for, for months. Why don’t you use it?

Eh, it’s new. Different. It just seems…easier to do it the old way.

Later, as I read over my upcoming Sunday school lesson, the Holy Spirit brought to mind the teapot truth. We were in Romans, the powerful epistle in which Paul beautifully details Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and our new life in Him. I was teaching from Chapter 7, where Paul explains that though we’re made a brand new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) with a new nature, we will still sin.

“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” ~ Romans 7:19 

The biggest roadblock for many in coming to faith in Jesus Christ is the awareness and admittance of the sin nature within. We all have that nature, even the ‘best’ of us… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Throughout my life, God had to knock quite a few people off the ‘perfect’ pedestal I placed them on in my mind, reminding me of this Truth.

The only One never knocked down off His throne? Jesus Christ.

The great news is when we’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ, the old nature – which we’re born with and separates us from our perfect Creator – is compressed, crushed down by the Holy Spirit. It’s not gone, but we’re given power through Jesus and the Holy Spirit to defeat the sinful desires of our old nature.

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16

We have to continue squashing our sin nature by cutting out things of the world and clinging to things of God…that which is true, noble, just, pure, and lovely (Philippians 12:8). I’ve found the more I seek God and His word, the less I desire things of the world. Reading the Bible, seeking to know Jesus more through prayer and study, and fellowshipping with the Body will forcefully press the life out of our sin nature.

As I read through and prayed about this tough lesson, the teapot truth came to mind. Even though I had the shiny, perfect glass teapot, I still chose the old way because it was easier and familiar. Yet all I needed to do was turn the teapot on.

Once we’re saved by our faith in Jesus, how do we turn the Holy Spirit on in our lives? “Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As I told my students Sunday morning, Pray, pray, pray! Ask God for strength to do what is right. He is so faithful to see us through whatever we face! And when we sin, ask God for forgiveness in Jesus’ name, and repent of that sin – turn away from it. 

“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

~ Romans 6:22 & 23