Does your mind wander at times? Come for a wander with me now into some unimaginably lush garden forests of reverie. In these forests, those who love to let their minds mull and wander are able to explore what most people fail to even notice. This is a forest of benedictions. Our Italian brothers could readily tell us that 'bene-diction' means good words. And as we venture into this inviting garden-forest we come across the grandest benediction. Eugene Peterson is already seated on the carpet of heath admiring it. He has drawn us a picture of this loveliest part of the reverie garden-
¶ The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.
Second Corinthians 13:14 THE MESSAGE, by Eugene Peterson
John Newton wandered through this exquisite forest some time ago. He picked some of the generous blooms of this wordy garden, put them in a vase and let the world admire them.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
AMAZING GRACE, John Newton
The Apostle Paul's closing words to the beleaguerd Corinthians were exactly what they needed. His epistle to them had been (at times) harsh and stern. Someone in their church had claimed it was not sin to be sexually involved with his step-mother. He claimed that the grace of Christ permitted him to sin freely. But by doing this, he had grossly distorted what God intended as 'love'. This disgraceful conduct and attitude had fractured the fellowship of their church.
Added to this were some who had misused the grace-gifts and used them in a very unloving manner. Their arrogant conduct threatened the now fragile fellowship of their church.
Into this barren wasteland of disarray, the apostle introduces God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He points them back to God the Father and reminds them of His dealings with Israel and how this revealed His great faithfulness. As he does, the dusty soil seems to change colour. He introduces a throne into the middle of the scene and vegetation begins to appear. In a glimmer of strange light it appears that Someone is seated on the throne. The apostle talks a lot about Him - His sacrifice, His redeeming work, His great passion. Then on-cue, a very light mist envelopes the garden and waters the plants which have gently appeared and the apostle speaks of the Holy Spirit - His empowering, His gifts, His power. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit work together in harmony and unison of purpose.
¶ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Second Corinthians 13:14
Perhaps your life has become barren and desolate? Vitality, passion, and joy might seem to have gone from your life. Consider, muse, and ponder on what the Apostle Paul is telling the Corinthians: The Trinity of Grace, Love, and Fellowship can turn your dryness into lushness. These are "good words" from the Apostle. Perhaps you could use a dose of benediction in your life right now? It is hard to imagine a grander benediction than this.
Grace is any gift given freely and undeservedly. God's grace is even more than this because it is a gift given freely and undeservedly meeting our present need. Could you use the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life now? I could. F.W. Boreham, in his classic book, On The Other Side of The Hill, tells us that the affect of receiving such a grace is that we become ourselves become gracious, loving, and friendly. The one touched deeply by the power of this benediction cannot help but pass it on to others. He tells us that it is the same as a person taking a leisurely walk through a thick garden of fragrant flowers and having the fragrance of the garden's flowers linger about them for days.
¶ But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Second Corinthians 2:14
Dr Boreham also points out that it's not just grace, love and fellowship, that these benedictory words bestow, it is the accompaniment of the Triune Bestower as well. Christians, dedicated followers of Christ, are given the grace of Jesus Christ because we have received Christ. We are given the love of God because we have yielded our lives to God and He has chosen to live in us. We given fellowship with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit now dwells with and in us. Understanding the Trinity is not merely the domain of lofty Theologians. It should be the delight and refreshment of every follower of Christ. For in pondering the union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we see what infinite grace has looked like for all eternity. We see what infinite love looks like in its most glorious fashion. And we see the original archetype of intimate fellowship. These musings cause us to be gracious toward the undeserving, loving toward the difficult, and open-heartedly friendly toward those we not yet or fully know. Eugene Peterson captures this benediction well when he describes this wonderful blessing available to all believers when he calls it- amazing, extravagant, and intimate.
Mankind was originally placed in a garden. It was in this Garden of Eden that God would come down in the cool of the day and walk with Adam. As he experienced God's presence he was nourished to the core of his soul on grace, love and fellowship. He would have known unimaginable peace, joy, and satisfaction. Without God and His benediction spoken into our soul, people are left to their own inadequate devices and left wondering why they feel so empty and dry. In a world full of desolate words, couldn't you use an amazing, extravagant, and intimate benediction to fill your mind with renewing, refreshing, comfort? May you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit deep in your soul.