Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

On the Lookout for Treasure January 25, 2013

Filed under: Real Life — Stephanie Rische @ 1:33 pm
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Daniel and I are currently on an American Pickers kick. In case you’ve never seen this History Channel series, the basic premise is that two guys, Mike and Frank, hit the road in a big van, traveling the U.S. looking for treasures amid people’s hoarded junk.

For me it’s part horror, part cautionary tale to see the piles of stuff people have collected over the span of years, decades, even generations. I find myself hyperventilating when they open the door to people’s barns or garages to find them stuffed wall to wall, floor to ceiling with junk. Rusty, grimy, decaying junk. I usually vow on the spot to clean out all my closets. And then I suggest to the guys on the screen, rather forcefully, that they might be better off getting a bottle of lighter fluid and torching the place.

 

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But the pickers are more patient than I am, and they can see something I can’t: there just may be pieces of treasure tucked in with the trash. They have different eyes than I do—eyes that can see below the surface and take in the underlying value of something.

 

One of the fascinating parts about the show is watching the price haggling being played out on the screen. How do they know what something is worth? I wondered at first. Then we watched an episode where Mike and Frank sold some of their wares to an interested buyer—a collector with moola to spare. And suddenly this realization hit me, obvious as it was: The value of something is determined by what someone will pay for it.

 

And so it is for the likes of us. We may look like junk. We may be surrounded by trash. We may feel rusty, dirty, washed-up. But God traveled great distances to seek us out, combing the earth to and rescue us from the trash heap. If you ever question your worth, wondering if you have any value, know that someone—the God of the universe, no less—was willing to pay the ultimate price for you. The life of his own Son.

 

I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.
—Isaiah 44:22

 

{For more musings on this topic, see my post Trashed.}

 

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Up Close to Greatness January 15, 2013

Filed under: Real Life — Stephanie Rische @ 4:57 pm
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Thanks to a generous friend and a friend-of-a-friend who has season tickets to the Bulls games, Daniel and I were the recipients of an experience we never would have splurged on ourselves: eighth-row seats to a real-live NBA game.

 

I’ll never forget the moment the players stepped onto the court to warm up. I sucked in my breath as they walked toward us. “They’re not this tall on TV!” I kept whispering to Daniel. I’m sure it got old after I repeated myself for the eighth time, but I couldn’t get over how goliath they were in close proximity. “I think I come up to the waistband on number 13’s shorts!”

 

I’ve been a basketball fan for years, but being at a game in person—and in row 8, no less—was like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time after years of merely looking at photographs. Everything was bigger, faster, louder without a screen separating us. I could hear Nate Robinson announcing the plays, I could see the look in Luol Deng’s face when he was calling for the ball, I could hear the players’ yammerings with the refs, I could see just how fast Taj Gibson moved his feet to deke his defender.

 

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Shoot, we were so close I could practically smell the players’ sweat.

 

At halftime I found myself considering how much easier it is to take in a game secondhand. You don’t have to fight the traffic, you don’t have to find parking, you don’t have to fork over any hard-earned cash. You just turn on your TV and watch the game from the comfort of your couch. But that ease comes at a price—you also lose the grandness of the firsthand experience.

 

I wonder how often I try to take the shortcut in other areas of my life too. It’s more effort, more time to get together with a friend, so I take the easy route and send a message or post a quick note on her wall. There’s nothing wrong with those convenient methods of communication, of course—as long as they don’t creep in to become a cheap replacement of the real thing.

 

And what about my relationship with God? How often do I settle for a secondhand relationship with him, content to hear about him through a sermon or a book or a friend without taking the extra effort to go deep myself?

 

“Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth….[Christ] waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”

—A. W. Tozer

 

The Bulls, by the way, experienced a rather ugly loss to a team they should have beaten soundly. But it didn’t matter all that much. Just being eight rows from greatness was gift in itself.

 

Question: In what areas of your life are you settling for a secondhand experience?

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