I have a weakness for peanut butter. On any given day, you’d likely find four jars of the stuff in our pantry: generic creamy, chunky, the brand-name “good stuff”… and a backup.
So when I received homemade Amish peanut butter from one of the authors my company works with, you can imagine my delight. Just one spoonful was enough for me to know I’d be ruined for all other peanut butter for the rest of time. In all my years of history with peanut butter, I’d never tasted such gooey, creamy, sweet deliciousness. The fact that it was made from scratch by a Pennsylvania woman in a bonnet only added to its divinity.
As I was eating my toasted peanut butter sandwich, I was reminded of the quote a friend of mine uses as part of her signature at the bottom of e-mails:
God spreads his grace thick and gloppy…the way a child spreads peanut butter.
It struck me as I took another bite that something like Amish peanut butter isn’t meant to be skimped on or rationed out. It isn’t meant to be analyzed for calorie count or obsessed over for exactly which spot on my hips it’s bound to end up.
Forgive me if this sounds a touch sacrilegious, but maybe my friend’s quote is right—maybe grace isn’t so different from peanut butter. God spreads his grace with such extravagance that it gets messy and smears all over us, until the globs rub off onto other people too.
When Jesus interacted with people, he was often accused by the religious folk of being too generous with grace. On one occasion when he was eating dinner with a group of people, he was approached by an “immoral woman” (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus didn’t condone the choices she’d made, but he extended forgiveness to her nonetheless. Forgiveness of the thick and gloppy variety.
I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love.
Having received extravagant forgiveness, she responded with extravagant gratitude:
She brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
No matter how hard we try, we’ll never deserve God’s extravagant grace. But we do have a choice about how we’ll receive it. Will we clench our teeth and portion it out over so many bread crumbs? Will we nibble each bite guiltily, washing it down with the sour milk of regret?
Or will we take in the gift the way it was meant to be received, with joy and abundance and overflowing gratitude, the way the woman in the book of Luke did?
May my peanut butter communion remind me of how God intends his grace to be: thick and gloppy. Like Amish peanut butter.
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.
I will never view peanut butter in quite the same way again. Thank you for this wonderful metaphor of God’s grace.
Loved this post, Stephanie.
Stephanie Rische says
Thanks, Maggie! I’m getting hungry just thinking about Ira’s peanut butter!
alice Teisan says
Thanks for the analogy.