There is a beautiful, majestic mountain range. Between two mountains there is a lush, green valley with many colorful flowers that smell gloriously lovely. In the valley is a gentle and quiet stream that flows ever so perfectly right through the center of a village. It is Spring all the time in this village. Birds are chirping, people are out and about, life is in the air. It is full of glee. Like, better than something from Disney. Everyone is happy and joyful and wonderful all the time in this village.
You, and me, and all of our friends... We live in this village. Right in the center of the valley. Why is everyone so happy here? Why? Well, we can see the top of the mountain. And on the mountain is a huge, ancient castle. And we know that in that castle lives our king. And oh man do we LOVE our king. He is wise and fair and kind and good. He gives us good gifts and tests everyone equally. I mean, we really love the king. But there is a problem. We are afraid to approach the king. Even though we know all of this about him. You see, we are afraid, because we know who we are. And what are we exactly? Well, we...we are an entire village of prostitutes. It is in our character. That is just what we do. But. Prostitution is against the king's law, and it breaks his heart. So we know that if we approach the king, he will be angry. But since it is just who we are we accept the fact that we can never change- prostitution is in our nature. So we live separated from the king.
But one day.... One day we hear the draw bridge lowering. We hear a giant horse galloping out of the castle gate. We see him go around and around the mountain. He is coming to us. The horse gets to our village and there is a representative of the king. This man pulls out a scroll and reads:
"Hear ye, hear ye! Seeing as how prostitution has clearly been declared as against the king's law, and seeing that this is a village of prostitutes, you are all violators of the law. This being said, all violators shall, from here on out, be..."
We know what is coming. We know he is going to say beheaded or banished or hanged or imprisoned. We prepare ourselves for our terrible fate.
But we are NOT prepared for what the representative says.
"...all violators shall be.... Forgiven"
What?! We are forgiven? Woohooooo!!! We get excited...nay, ecstatic! We throw a party! We have been forgiven!! We revel in this wonder. The party lasts for days! Like, I mean party like it is 1999 kind of party. We celebrate and laugh and dance! We are forgiven!!
But- when the joy wears off, guess what. What do we do? We go back to doing what we do. Doing what is in our nature. Because that is who we are. We go right back into our own lifestyle.
Days later. Same scenario. Draw bridge, horse, representative, scroll.
"Hear ye, hear ye! Seeing as how prostitution has clearly been declared as against the king's law, and seeing that this is a village of prostitutes, you are all violators of the law. This being said, all violators shall, from here on out, be forgiven...... AND...."
What? There is an and? What could possibly come after and? We are forgiven aren't we? Or is it going to say forgiven and only for a time?... And still banished? And...what? What is it going to say?!
"....forgiven AND adopted."
Adopted? Yes, adopted! The representative says that the king means it! He says we don't have to have the awkward fear of approaching the king anymore. He says "Look, go to the castle. In the castle you each have your own room. It's got your name on it, so you'll know. Don't worry. Anyway, go to your room. You will have a wardrobe. In the wardrobe is a whole line of the finest royal robes. These robes are for you to wear. So c'mon! Get your stuff....actually, leave your stuff because it's junk.... And go to the castle!!! You have a little bit of food to eat here, but up there is an entire feast waiting for you! And, It doesn't matter at all what you are wearing now. Obviously your clothes are dirty and old and worn. But you can put on the royal robes and be the king's children!! You don't have to live in the village of prostitutes anymore. That doesn't have to define you! LET'S GO!!!"
So we go. And it changes who we are. Prostitution isn't just what we do anymore. It is what we used to do. But the king changes everything.
That is what grace is. God is the King, we are the village that breaks his heart. But He changes who we are.