This is the second in a series of word studies that I am doing to try to reveal the best explanation of a specific scripture.
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. – Hebrews 6:4-6
What is “the heavenly gift”?
Life, grace, righteousness (Vines)
And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. -Romans 5:16-17
Once again, scripture shows that Jesus cancels out Adam’s legacy. Adam brought condemnation. Jesus brought justification.
It’s depressing to me that people find it easier to believe in an angry God than a God of mercy. People find it easier to accept defeat than to believe in victory. The problem is that they can’t get over their relationship to the Law.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. –Romans 8:3
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. -1 Corinthians 15:56
Think of it like an abusive ex who was a good person until alcohol made him or her a terrorist. The fear-laced memory of the former is stealing your ability to be loved and accepted by anyone new.
It’s hard to accept a gift if you don’t trust the giver. What’s in it for them? And what are they going to require of you if you accept it?
I remember when I was six-years-old and living in a foster home with a couple that couldn’t conceive their own children. I always thought it was why the foster mom didn’t seem to like me. She would point out my flaws and had an uncanny knack for making me feel ashamed of myself for being me.
I was the only child in the house and used to sit in front of the mirror and pretend I had a friend. I would stare at my features trying to figure myself out. I had a hard time feeling real. Sometimes I would try to see my real mom in my face. But, most of the time I would stare at my body and wonder what made me unwanted.
When I would catch her watching me, she would tell me that I was “very vain” and walk away. Her words cut through me like a serrated blade and I literally winced.
I still wince.
I tried to be good and to show her that I had manners, but when I called her ‘ma’am’, she grabbed the skin on my throat, tugging me toward her so that we were face-to-face. While pinching my skin so hard that I could feel my heart beat in my neck, she gritted her teeth and told me that I was never to call her ‘ma’am.’
I wanted to give her gifts for Christmas, but had no money, so I went in my room and looked for something she might like. My real mom was a gypsy, and every time I got taken away from her she would give me pieces of her jewelry so that I would be connected to her. I went into my room and found one of my mother’s rings. I never would have given it away if I didn’t think it would make my foster mom love me.
I didn’t have a box, but wanted it to be safe, so I hid it in a wad of soft toilet paper. Then I sneaked a scrap of wrapping paper and some tape.
When I placed the gift under the tree, the foster mom went over and picked it up. I could tell I was about to be in trouble, but I knew that when she opened it she would be impressed. It was a piece of my six-year-old heart in that terribly wrapped wad. I suddenly felt ashamed seeing what looked like an odd piece of trash in her hand. Christmas was still a few days away, so it surprised me when she ripped it open. She was so rough with it that the ring fell on the floor.
She bent down to look at it and said, “Serena, you don’t give people your used junk as gifts.” Then she walked away.
I felt small and sick. The foster mom had rejected me and I betrayed my real mom. I picked up the tainted ring, threw it in the bathroom trash, and went to my room because I couldn’t hide my emotions. I felt alone and I wanted my mom back. I thought I was honoring her by throwing it and the memory it would now represent in the trash, but it kept calling out to me in my mother’s voice. I ran to the trash, dug it out, and put it under my pillow so that I could hold it in my hand all night. Cleansed with the sweat of my sticky palm.
I went on to several different foster homes after that. They weren’t all as lonely as that one, but I never did get my fill of love.
I told you all that to tell you that it has always been hard for me to accept love. After I became a Christian, I still felt like a foster child with God. I wasn’t one of His prized possessions. I was a dirty little street kid that He let come around. I felt like He had bonds with others that He didn’t share with me. I felt like He spoke secrets to others that He never told me.
I was still loyal to Him and tried to prove my worth. I wanted Him to love me and I never had to question it if I never did anything wrong. I relied on my conscience to give me a vacant spot on His floor. But, I still felt like an odd piece of trash in a scrap of wrapping paper.
When I sinned my huge, horrible sin, I was told that I was no longer welcome. All of His other kids told me that His love doesn’t reach to the depths of my filth and the decent thing would be to disappear. They honored Him by throwing me away.
I felt small and sick. My shame screamed in my ears and my heartbeat mocked my spirit. I was the rejected betrayer, once again. I was the ring calling out from the trash.
God came running after me. He left everyone in the house and called my name into the night.
God never spoke to me when I was earning my way the way He does now that I am incapable. I find His grace in the clarity of His voice. I find life in what I hear Him say. He never called me righteous until I knew for a fact that I wasn’t.
He held me through my night and cleansed me with the blood in his sticky palm.
That’s ‘the Heavenly gift.’
I only have a couple of photos of myself when I was a child. I have a photocopied picture of myself when I was six, but I ‘X’ed it out when I was little. A forever reminder of my self-worth. This is the closest I could get to my age from the story. It’s a picture of me when I was three.
Below are some suggestions for discussions:
Events in your past affect the way you handle life now. Things that you struggle with in your relationships, even in your own head, have a root. Often times, we make attribute human qualities to God. We limit Him. This makes it hard to trust His love, to accept His ‘heavenly gift’, and believe that He is not judging our worth based on us.
- What do you think God sees when He looks at you?
- Which human qualities are you attributing to God?