Last week, God blessed my entire family and I with the chance to visit The Ark Encounter in Williamston, Kentucky. After saving for a couple of years, I wanted to take the family on a real "vacation." My oldest son Joshua laughs when I use that word because, for several years (literally years), I have never used that word. Our trips have always been for missions work, ministry work, visiting extended family and relatives, or helping others in need. Of course there's nothing wrong with any of the aforementioned. However, we were never "on vacation" in the sense that most people think of this terminology. Moreover, my three kids (who are adults now) were in high school the last time Annette and I rented a place at the beach for a three-day get-away. (I told you I was terrible at this stuff.)
Anyway, while God was showing me some "underserved favor" with my family, we visited a "big grace" place. Ken Ham and the creators of the life-sized Ark from the story of Noah in Genesis 6 have done an excellent job of bringing a biblical story to life for the next generation. The historical facts, scientific truths, and biblical accuracy of the "Encounter" were top notch. (If you ever go, take your time during the tour. There is a lot to absorb.) But, I want to focus on the "big picture" since it was such a BIG ENCOUNTER for me.
At the risk of oversimplifying the story of Noah, here are some facts: After only a few generations of life on Earth, mankind had become so evil, corrupt and sinful that God was pretty much "done with us." God's decision to judge the sin was already in place from the time of Creation. How and when was the question. Sin is not tolerated by a Holy God. So a literal world-wide flood of judgement upon mankind was God's choice in how He would "destroy every living thing" on Earth.
"Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die." (Genesis 6:18, NLT)
But Noah [and his family] found grace and favor with God. (Genesis 6:8)
So, God told Noah about the coming catastrophic flood and gave him instructions to build a boat; a giant boat that would save his family and land-dwelling animals. The Ark is not just a boat though. It is a Life-Boat designed by God to rescue man from judgement and death. It is literally a huge Life-Saver. It is favor and grace from God on an enormous scale (literally.) God was heartbroken and disappointed that He had ever created mankind and it was all because of our incessant sinning. I wonder how He "feels" about us today? The Ark was a GIANT LIFE BOAT from God. The Ark is Grace. BIG GRACE. Over 450-foot-long and 75-feet-wide Grace. Over four stories tall and three million board feet of timber Grace. Standing under the shadow of the bow, you can get the idea of BIG GRACE.
I believe God's Grace is still BIG. I know His grace to me is BIG. I can see it bigger and bigger every year of my life. Can you see his BIG Grace? The cross of Jesus is the biggest sign of His grace. In fact, Paul asked the Galatian churches: How do you lose sight of the public billboard of Christ's crucifixion? You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed (literally a public sign) as crucified? (Galatians 3:1) The cross wasn't five stories high or three football fields long. But the cross was Jesus, the one and only Son of the Living God, holy and sinless, falsely accused, tried and tortured, beaten, shamed, mocked, and publicly executed for me and for you. The most outstanding Being in the history of mankind, and in all of Eternity, died on a cross for my sins and three days later rose again to conquer death, Hell and the grave for me. I can be free from the sin that sends me to Hell. I can be free from the destruction of eternal damnation. I can fellowship with God and Jesus in a place of no pain, sorrow or sadness for all eternity because Jesus died on the cross. I simply have to believe that Jesus truly did die on the cross for my sins and rose again to give me new life. Big Grace! Grace that says, 'no matter what you've done, there is no sin outside the boundaries of God's grace because His grace superabounds beyond the limits of sin.' "But when sin grew worse, God's grace increased. Sin once used death to rule us, but God gave people more of his grace so that grace could rule by making people right with him. And this brings life forever through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21, NCV)
As Christ-followers, our responsibility, our job for God, is to enlarge God's grace in the eyes of those around us. We are literal pictures of God's grace on Earth to those who are under judgement. How BIG is your picture? How much grace is your life demonstrating and exhibiting and discussing in order to highlight the enormous grace of God? Ken Ham and his ministry team built an Ark (and Creation Museum). What are you building that evidences God's magnificent, majestic grace? Are your life's goals and passions building grace images for God? Or are you building for yourself? Are your conversations and career moves highlighting God's grace and your trust in Him?
I cannot end this reflection on grace without giving you one of my favorite quotes on grace. It comes from Kenneth S. Wuest, a Biblical Greek New Testament scholar and professor at Moody Bible Institute during the mid-twentieth century:
"There is enough grace in God's heart of love to save and keep saved for time and eternity, every sinner that ever has or ever will live, and then enough left over to save a million more universes full of sinners, were there such, and then some more. There is enough grace available to give every saint constant victory over sin, and then some more. There is enough grace to meet and cope with all the sorrows, heartaches, difficulties, temptations, testings, and trials of human existence, and more added to that. God's salvation is an oversize salvation. It is shock proof, stain proof, unbreakable, all sufficient. It is equal to every emergency, for it flows from the heart of an infinite God, freely bestowed and righteously given through the all-sufficient sacrifice of our Lord on the cross. Salvation is all of grace. Trust God's grace. It is super-abounding grace."
We live in a day where BIG STORMS and BIG PROBLEMS trouble us constantly. I pray you will trust in God's BIG GRACE for your daily lives. If you are drowning in troubles and feel like you need a Life-Saver, please feel free to write to me and I can share how I found grace and we can converse together about your needs. God is patient in providing for you and for me. I am grateful for five days of BIG GRACE with my family. I'm grateful for grace upon grace to be reminded of the grace for Noah and his family and for Stan and his family. I pray the same for you and your family and friends as you read this.