When I was a little girl, I would spend a couple of weeks each summer with my Grandma Keen in Richmond, Virginia. I always looked forward to these visits with great anticipation!
Momma would pack my suitcase and we would start for our journey to Grandma’s house. The ride there always seemed so long, as I peered out the window and watched pastures meld into concrete and sidewalks. My exhilaration was almost more than I could contain and I would pepper Momma with thousands of questions. If she ever grew tired of my incessant talking, she never let on.
Grandma would be waiting at the front door with her hair pulled into a bun and her apron donned. I can smell her now, as I remember, Oil of Olay –she was all of 4’11, pudgy, and had skin as soft as Rose petals. Her apron pockets stuffed with Kleenex and her rocking chair full of love.
There were two very special things that I enjoyed when I would go to visit Grandma…pulling out the coffee tin of buttons and retrieving last year’s Sears Roebuck & Co. catalogue she saved for me to cut out paper dolls. I would spend hours on the floor with those buttons of all shapes, colors, and sizes — placing them into “families,” giving them voices and personalities — pretending they were old friends that I had not seen in a very long time. Grandma would also give me an old shoe box that would serve as a home for my cut-out paper dolls — oh the wonderful outfits they would wear!
When these memories came flooding over me a day or two ago, I realized that we no longer live in a place of such simplicity and innocence. Gone are the days of coffee tins full of buttons, Sears Roebuck catalogues, and apron pockets stuffed with Kleenex. We live in a throw-away society that has neither time nor inclination to save and replace buttons — if we lose a button, we just go out and buy a new blouse! We no longer need a Sears Roebuck catalogue to shop with or cut out paper dolls because we have Amazon!
The simpler times — the coffee tins and buttons — taught us lessons of redemption! They taught us to mend — not just blouse buttons, but relationships. We harbor unforgiveness in our hearts — you know the old saying, “Burn me once shame on you; burn me twice shame on me.” That is not what Jesus taught:
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22
Does that mean we are to forgive them 490 times and then after that we’re done? No! Jesus was not telling us to forgive them a certain number of times, but over and over. I know what you’re thinking, “But, you don’t know what they did to me…you don’t know how many chances I’ve given them…you’ve never been hurt or betrayed or used like I have! Certainly, Jesus didn’t mean for me to keep being a ‘doormat’ or be used in such a way! No, way! I’m done with being treated like this or that and I won’t be a fool!”
Well, beloved, He most certainly did mean it and not only did He mean it, He demonstrated it by dying on the cross of Calvary to redeem us. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us so that we might be forgiven. We are redeemable — and for me, sometimes, that is hard to swallow because I know the wretchedness of my heart. I praise His name for redeeming me — for not casting me aside as invaluable or useless to His Kingdom.
I will always remember the love of our Redeeming Savior when I see a mess of buttons or an old Sears Roebuck catalogue, or even a picture of my Grandma in an apron with pockets stuffed with Kleenex and the lessons God taught me on her parlor floor!