“Neither are you [an exception to acceptance]. So for heaven’s sake, accept your acceptance.”- Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up on You
“Now thank we all our God / With hearts and hands and voices, / Who wondrous things has done, / In whom His world rejoices; / Who from our mother’s arms / Has blessed us on our way / With countless gifts of love / and still is ours today.”- Lutheran Service Book, 895 v. 1
“Now we find that the Law keeps slipping into the picture to point the vast extent of sin. Yet, though sin is shown to be wide and deep, thank God his grace is wider and deeper still.”- Romans 5:20 (PHILLIPS)
Once located a little over two miles from my childhood home in Evergreen Park, IL, the Diamond Head Restaurant & Lounge beckoned patrons to “enjoy the delicate splendor of authentic Oriental dining.” Amidst the Hawaiian and Japanese decor, diners feasted on excellent American cuisine (prime rib) as well as Japanese entrees.
However, to an adolescent accustomed to home cooked meals, the Diamond Head provided an alluring alternative. Especially when the family reserved one of the semi-private rooms that lined the perimeter of the dining area. Each room offered “hybrid” Japanese seating. You “sat” on the floor, with the table positioned slightly above your lap. Space under the table allowed you to dangle your legs. Instead of sitting criss cross apple sauce.
The place to go in the 60s and 70s, the Diamond Head closed sometime in the 1980s. A parking lot for commuter train passengers now occupies the site.
Today, ethic foods proliferate. Back in my day, though, the Diamond Head offered a unique take on the standard restaurant meal. A culinary expression of God’s love, compassion, mercy, and grace. An invitation to accept your acceptance.
Writing in Chapter 11 of God Never Gives Up on You, Max Lucado describes Jacob’s season at Shechem as a toxic wasteland. The darkest chapter in Jacob’s story. More prodigal than patriarch. Because Jacob forgot his identity as well as God’s command. Furthermore, Jacob pitched his tent a mere twenty miles from Bethel. Within a zip code of obedience, Max notes.
Most significantly, God certainly was present. But Jacob failed to lift a finger to seek Him. Still, God took the initiative and spoke to Jacob. As a result, Jacob came to his senses. So, as Max phrases it, Jacob had an Old Testament version of a come-to-Jesus moment. Hence, he reassumed his role as elder of the clan.
However, God is the hero of the hour, not Jacob. For God prompted and moved Jacob. Above all, God stepped in. Rather than Jacob looking up. Consequently, even though Jacob repeatedly forgot God, God never forgot Jacob. Grace, Max underscores, all grace.
After hearing Pastor Lucado preach a sermon on forgiveness, a young woman approached him. During her young life, she’d battled much rejection. But on that day, she took the message to heart – felt something different. The young woman discovered that she wasn’t an exception to acceptance. She knew that God made a covenant to love her with an everlasting love. A promise He keeps!
In conclusion, Pastor Lucado exhorts, accept your acceptance. Make grace your permanent address. And willingly open your heart to God’s love. Each day presents new ways for us to wander off course. Therefore, Max offers these words of encouragement and hope:
“God is wooing you, pursuing you, romancing you. Refuse him if you want. Ignore him if you desire. Linger in the stench of Shechem for a time. But he will not give up. Did he not promise to lead you home? And has he ever broken a promise?
Not on your life. This is the message of God, the aggressive promise of grace. Trust it.”