I had a challenge in front of me. My wife would be away all day Sunday visiting a friend, and that left me the privilege of being “Mr. Mom”!
I wanted it to be a special day for my boys, who were 7 and 9 at the time, so I announced our plans days in advance. After church we would eat bullfrog sandwiches, then we would go to the regional snail race.
Their response was a little less enthusiastic than I had anticipated: “Bullfrog sandwiches? Yuck!” “Snail race? Sounds boring!”
Had I made the wrong decisions?
The day arrived and my wife left behind two teary-eyed kids. “I miss mom!” Cried one. “Me too!” Chimed in the other one.
Hum. The day wasn’t going quite as I had planned it! “Remember the bullfrog sandwiches and the snail race?” I suggested, trying to lift their spirits.
More wailing! Will I ever be able to fill my wife’s shoes? Being Mr. Mom seems to have only worked well on T.V.!
When church was over, we headed out for our first stop: Perkins. Funny how my boys’ expressions changed when we pulled in . . . “You didn’t really mean bullfrog sandwiches, did you Papa?” They challenged.
The stacks of syrup-covered pancakes perked them up significantly. Actually, I think it was more like pancakes floating in syrup-soup! And not once during our stay in this bullfrog restaurant did I hear: “I miss mom!” I was in heaven. There was hope for me after all!
Upon finishing our meal, I was challenged with a question: There isn’t really such a thing as a snail race, is there?” I smiled and ushered them into the van. When we arrived at our next stop, both of their eyes opened up wide: “The cinema?” They asked, excitement mounting in their voices. “The ‘snail race’ is a movie?”
“They had no choice but to tape the snail race, otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to see anything,” I responded as I bought the tickets.
My boys stood on tiptoes to catch the name of the movie on the tickets. “Spykids 3!!! Alright!” They shouted, jumping up and down in excitement. Then they snatched up the required three-dimensional glasses and raced to take their seats.
I took a pair of the special glasses as well, but I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about it! Since I only see through one eye, these kind of glasses are completely ineffective for me. I tried them on anyway, over the top of my regular glasses. I looked quite the sight, believe me, but all I saw was fast-moving blurs, and when I took them back off, it was even worse. I closed my eyes, trying to concentrate on the dialogue, but without the visual effects, I couldn’t follow the story plot, and I was soon having the battle of my life just to stay awake!
My boys on the other hand, were completely caught up in the movie’s plot and were enjoying themselves completely. They could see. What was nothing but a blur to me was clear to them, and it made all the difference in the world!
Later, as I pondered over my experience of that day, I realized that often the gospel message is portrayed in such a way that you need “additions”-“3-D glasses” if you wish, to embrace it. Many preach that you need to DO something to be saved. But nowhere in my Bible do I see Jesus or His disciples presenting anything but a simple gospel message, one that doesn’t need any special “requirement” to comprehend: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3: 19 NIV); and “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor 15:1-4 NIV).
Friends, there are NO 3-D glasses to put on, or anything else for that matter! We cannot do anything to save ourselves: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8-9 NIV). Just like the 3-D glasses completely blur the vision of someone who sees through only one eye, the importance of works completely clouds the gospel message! And God has some pretty harsh words to say to these pushes of “3-D glasses”: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23: 15 NIV)
Remember, the gospel message is simple and clear. It’s a message of grace. Jesus died in our stead and rose on the third day. Forgiveness can only be obtained through Him. Works aren’t what saves us. Jesus did it all for us! We don’t deserve it, but God loved us so much that He made it possible. He’s the One who deserves the praise!
Wow! This is a message worth sharing with everyone!
Would you like to eat a bullfrog sandwich and watch a snail race? Why not share these with others?