For some reason I have always had a vivid memory of a single line form a kids play from years ago. My kids participated in many musicals/plays/skits in church, while growing up, so I find it odd that THIS particular line is always rolling around in my head after all these years. I have no recall of the title, not even the context…but I seem to think it had something to do with a little girl explaining the meaning of her name, “Grace”. She boldly proclaims, “Grace, it means God’s unmerited favor!” At the time I thought that the term “unmerited” seemed too complicated for the young audience it was intended to reach. But I think that was because I was still trying to grasp that word myself…”unmerited”: unearned, not deserved, bestowed without reason. God’s ability to love and forgive me no matter what my life looks like is hard to grasp. To this day I can hear that sweet little voice shouting , “GRACE, God’s unmerited favor!” and as it echoes in my memory I feel goose bumps knowing that I know exactly what GRACE is in my life. I have known God’s unmerited favor . Everyday I am thankful for this great gift of grace and forgiveness. I pray this Easter season, if you do not know how much God loves you, that you will come to know grace, UNMERITED!
Here is a story I share every Easter…I hope you enjoy the story of sweet Abigail!
I’ve lost track of how many years ago it was, yet each Spring I can’t help but recall my introduction to Abigail. I was a high school science/Bible teacher for a small Christian school at the time. One of my students was a football sized young man named Nick. He worked for a local farmer who had offered him a young lamb to take home. Nick’s mom, apparently destined for sainthood, not only allowed him to bring the lamb home, but he got to keep it in his room! Early that Spring Nick brought photos to share. To my amazement, there, wedged beside his bed and amid typical teenage squalor, was a carefully built pen, complete with wood rails, chicken wire and hay. Abigail the lamb had found a perfect home. Over the next few weeks Nick would have numerous stories to tell of Abigail’s antics. I couldn’t wait to see her for myself, so I invited Nick to bring her to school one morning.
I ushered my entire class outside and we waited like giddy preschoolers for Abigail’s arrival. I am certain I will never be able to adequately describe what I saw that day. I will do my best. We watched as Nick emerged from his vehicle with Abigail cradled in his big burly arms. We stood transfixed by the sight of what can only be inadequately referred to as “precious”. Her pure, white coat seemed almost translucent, radiating light under the bright blue, cloudless sky. Her tiny nose was a perfect, pink velvet triangle perched just above her little pink mouth. As I placed my hand on her sweet little head she looked at me. I found myself staring into the depths of clear, brilliant blue eyes. I realized I had been holding my breath in awe. We were expecting to see a cute lamb, somewhat off white in color. I had not considered that, unlike the lambs at the local petting zoo, Abigail had been living in a clean, loving, environment. After everyone had made Abigail’s acquaintance, Nick left to return her home and we settled back into Bible class.
We soon realized the relevance of Abigail’s visit as we continued our study of Passover. The original Passover took place when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt. God instructed them to mark their door post with the blood of a male lamb. This was to protect them from the final plague which was the death of all first born in any home not so protected. (Exodus 11&12) The yearly commemoration of this event required the father to select the best, blemish free lamb and set it apart for the Passover…four days prior to the celebration. My students and I began to consider something quite startling. There was a good chance that the lamb would have been brought into the house or yard during that time. This perfect little lamb, probably as precious and sweet as our Abigail, may have clamored under their feet while they did chores, fed out of their hands and shared a living area. After four days, this lamb, which by now had become even more precious to the family, was to be sacrificed. Suddenly one can imagine the cries of the children, the quite sob of their mother, the sorrow in the eyes of the father who knows a blood sacrifice is required. For the first time, since meeting Abigail, we could truly envision the “sacrificial lamb” of the Scriptures.
The continued observance of Passover was a powerful object lesson for generations of Israelites. Every family member would be reminded not only of God’s protection and provision when He freed them from slavery, but also of the cost…the blood of their most precious lamb. This Easter we consider the final sacrifice. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, perfect and precious beyond description, was sacrificed for our sin. Many movies and videos have stirred the heart of man as they depict the brutal crucifixion of our Christ, yet none can compare to the vision of Abigail. As we celebrate our freedom from sin and death through the resurrection of our Lord, let’s never forget the cost. Praise God His love and grace make us worthy of such a sacrifice!
1 Peter 1:18-19 “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”