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Your Tewksbury Today

A Question of Ownership: Grace Upon Grace

Jun 11, 2017 03:35AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith

We had the date on the calendar for weeks. After much research, checking the internet daily, making inquiries, and searching several locations in the tri-state area, we had found the one. The. One. Our very first travel trailer. And it’s amazing after all the brainstorming of items on our wish list, our priorities were different from what we originally had thought. 

Bunkhouse or living space? 

Decent kitchen or bigger bathroom? 

Couch and table? 

Slide-out or no? 

Our kids each had a vote, even FaceTiming when they couldn’t go with us so they could see the interior.

Fifteen years old, no bunkhouse but bigger living space (and a slide-out to accommodate our four-legged family members)—we were counting down the days until June 8th. Pick-up was in Connecticut, about an hour and a half away. We did everything we could between sale and pick-up day to prepare that part of the yard to house our future mobile vacation investment.

And there we were, sandwiches in hand, ready for a day of waiting on the truck to receive the necessary alterations at the maintenance shop. We eagerly walked through our apartment on wheels one more time. 

But there was an unfortunate snafu, one that meant we could not bring the trailer home that day as planned. I could already picture the faces of all three kids, who couldn’t wait to find a trailer in the backyard when they arrived home from school.

As it turns out, the trailer had an issue with its title. It was a question of ownership. The former owner had traded in and forgotten to turn over the old title—a mistake also on the part of the dealership for not collecting it. So, as we waited for them to retrieve it from the RMV, we had to make the return trip home to disappointed kids.

If we were to drive that trailer off the lot with the ownership still in question, any liability would still transfer to the former (and apparently current) owner. If our money had been collected for the cost of the trailer, but we didn’t have the title, we could not legally claim that the trailer was ours.

On the way home, while my husband and I were discouraged, we told ourselves:

It’s just a trailer. It wasn’t really ours yet anyway. And we were lucky to even afford one. These are First World problems, truly. If it’s meant to be, it will be.

If nothing else, we had defeated some poison ivy and removed some overgrown pachysandra, reclaiming part of our yard. We were ready to be owners. We just weren’t owners yet.

As I sat in my prayer chair in my tiny gazebo a few hours later, I thought about other areas of my life where I needed to take inventory and determine ownership.

If I say I’m a Christian, then where is my belief that God can (even though He might not, for He is sovereign) heal a sick dear one?

If, during our worship service, I sing every week about ruins coming to life by the power of the risen Christ, why do I so easily give up on praying for decaying relationships that mean something to me? I can’t fix them, but I can pray for renewal and resurrected life within them.

If I counsel a dear friend that God is bigger than her deepest problem, but I don’t bother to consult Him on my own trials, how can I declare my faith with conviction to others?

If I am frustrated by someone consistently expressing negative, unedifying thoughts toward me, but I turn around and decimate my child with my sharp tongue, where is my witness to the transforming power of Christ in that?

If I resent the continual pattern of sin someone close to me is walking in, but I don’t bring the full darkness in my own heart before God at the Eucharist, or daily for that matter, where is my authority to confront that person?

See, in any of these or other similar scenarios, if I’ve not fully taken the truth of Christ and applied it to my life, I am not owning my inheritance, the fullness of His grace in my life.

John 1:12-17, ESV

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

God gave all of us who received Him the “right to become children of God.”

Wow! That’s some title after our name: children of God!

Full rights we can drive off the lot with!

“From His fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace!”

“Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

It sounds to me as if the ownership goes both ways: Christ claims us as His children, and because He does, His fullness, grace upon grace, His truth…they all belong to us!

In the meantime, I’m fairly certain my neighbors are wondering why after nearly eight years here, we decided to landscape and clear our land. I bet they think we are ready to put our house on the market.

Pretty soon they will see a trailer—maybe it won’t turn out to be this one, after all—through the clearing. They will either scratch their heads with understanding or regret we remain in residence here. Either way, we own the title. The trailer will be ours.

If you believe in and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have an ownership as well. You and I own the title to an eternal deed where He will forever state:

“That one there, oh, and that one there…they are Mine.”

Blessed be the name of the LORD.


Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.

She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.

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