Here at Southlands people describe someone with a recent conversion story as a 'trophy of grace.' I'm not sure who first coined the phrase, but its become a value statement of our community. These last two months, we've literally gasped at the wonder and glimmer of numerous 'trophies' on display in our Red Thread series. The redeeming power of the bloodied cross and the empty grave is still magnificent when people entrust their lives to Jesus.
This last month of summer we're carrying on with Red Thread, but the trophy cabinet is going antique. We'll be looking at people who have done some mileage following Jesus. Their trophy of grace no longer has a brand-new-out-of-the-box shimmer. It has what the antique dealers call 'patina'. A far more mottled, handled, and ultimately expensive shine that comes from decades of use and care.
Dudley Daniel often said that "What we are saved into is far more important than what we are saved out of." This bears itself out in the story of Abraham. God's call to leave his household, and go to a new land came at age 75. The conversion story was fairly ordinary, but what came after that was absolutely epic, and required remarkable, persistent courage. Radical is not a past tense word and it has no age restriction.
The gap between God's promise of a child, and Isaac's arrival, is 24 years. And this was only the start of their call to parent a family of faith. God is faithful but not always punctual. Abraham and Sarah's patina was being cultivated with not just faith, but patience in the 24 year gap. There were numerous failures, setbacks and delays, followed by altar moments of consecration, which brought fresh faith for God's unfolding story in their lives.
Theirs was more a story of God's grace than their faithfulness. God was patient with them in their failures. It was not, 'one strike and you're out.'It was, 'I will keep testing you until you pass.' He seemed to measure them on their average, which was not perfect, but good. This too is patina.
There are a number of seasoned saints in our community with similar such patina.
As the average age of our community seems to get younger, these saints become more, not less vital to us. Their faith, obedience and patience over decades, has had a powerful domino effect on the generations after them. Their stories give us courage to keep journeying, keep building altars, keep believing. Their gift is vision to live now for those who will outlive us. To leave a faith legacy for God's glory.
Join us this Sunday, for the first trophy with patina. Or upload the message by Tuesday after the weekend at www.southlands.net