Here’s an excerpt from the book I’m writing on Grace. Love to hear your thoughts!
Ezekiel 16 is a stunning portrait of grace told through the lens of a racy allegory. In as much as the Israelites resemble human nature as a whole, this allegory reveals God’s love for you and me. So let’s rehearse Ezekiel 16 as if it was our autobiography, since in many ways it is. In order to help us get inside the story and make it our own, we’ll have to contemporize it a bit. Here’s the allegory of Ezekiel 16—remixed:
Your father was a pimp and your mother was a prostitute. Your mom found a lucrative way to fund her drug habit by having sex with multiple men, until your father took her in (and a few others) to live under his roof. When a pimp lives with a prostitute, one thing leads to another, and that’s where you came in. With the help of a few lines of crack and a bottle of Jack, you were conceived and immediately unwanted. Too scared to have an abortion, your mother waited until you were born when she discarded you in a nearby dumpster.
Minutes later, a stranger walked by and heard the shrieking from inside the bin. He opened the lid and found you—squirming in your blood, expelling your last breath of life. The stranger’s 911 call miraculously summoned an ambulance within minutes, and you were saved. But still unwanted. The stranger couldn’t bear the thought of sending you to a foster home, so he signed some papers and took you into his home. But “home” is an understatement. Your new father was the CEO of a multimillion-dollar business. Your new home would be a small castle, and your future life would be paradisaical.
And he was a good man too. Humble, strong, generous, and honest. And though his wife had died childless a few years earlier, your father possessed an unusual joy, which he often spent on you. His time, his money, his affection, his attention—it was all yours. There was nothing you lacked. All the storybook tales combined could not compare to the utopian life you had. You were the envy of all your friends and the prized possession of a father who had it all. From his perspective, though, “having it all” boiled down to having you. You were the true source of his uncanny joy.
But something snapped when you turned 16. The boys at school started noticing your body and didn’t hide their glances. And glances turned to comments. Comments turned to touches. And touches opened the floodgates of a different kind of love—one that was both exhilarating and empty, but too addictive to deny. So at the age of 16, you left your father’s house, leaving him in pools of tears. You didn’t hide the fact that you were happily leaving him in order to pursue a sexual relationship with your new boyfriend. The more he wept, the more you laughed, as you skidded off in your boyfriend’s car.
Your adolescent love affair was only the beginning. Before long, your boyfriend’s buddies took a liking to you and the flirtatious cycle was replayed with them as well. Soon, mere sex with your boyfriend became boring and so his friends were added to the mix. But orgies also get old after a while, and so drugs, alcohol, and other men joined in the hellish dance. Your dream of freedom and love had turned into nightmare. But nothing can compare to the pain the day when your boyfriends decided to mail a picture of you to your father’s house. Delighted to catch a glimpse of his princess, your father laid his eyes upon a whore.
Your once beautiful hair was frayed and knotted. Your eyes—the windows to your soul—were dark and sunken. Devoid of life. And the bruises on your face revealed that your boyfriend’s love had run dry. Daddy’s baby girl was the prized possession of half a dozen drug infused teenagers. And there was nothing he could do.
Sex, drugs, and imaginative acts of depravity piled up as you lived the next two years satisfying your misguided lust for life on selfish scum—nameless boys who use and abuse you. Yet you still use them to satisfy your craving to be loved. You gave one boy the car daddy bought you on your sweet 16. Your boyfriend’s other girlfriend took the dress your father had made. And you sold the necklace that belonged to your father’s wife to buy heroine for another boy. Yet the beatings continued. Soon, your bank account ran out and you took to the streets to sell your body in order to keep a steady supply of heroine flowing through your boyfriends’ veins.
And heaven began to rumble with furious excitement.
One day, your “friends” were gone and you were all alone. Coming down off a high, you began to feel depressed and lonely as you felt your humanity slipping away. So you head for another pinch to numb the pain. Just then, the front door is kicked open and a burst of fear grips your heart. The bruises on your body are a constant reminder that your new home is never very safe, even though—or, especially since—your boyfriends live there. Kicked-in-doors were a regular occurrence and they never fared well for you. And this time, the fear ran especially deep. Maybe it was the suddenness of the blast coupled with the misery of coming down from a high. But your stunned demeanor quickly changed as you saw the man standing at the threshold. It was your father.
Your immediate reaction is still one of fear. You recall the day you drove away from his house laughing as he stood on his lawn weeping. How did he find me? Why had he come? Is he too going to beat me, after all I have done?
But his tears spoke otherwise. His face glistened with joy. His hands trembled with furious excitement. You could feel his heart thump steadily from across the room. And the familiar tears revisited his cheeks again, but this time was different. These were tears of jubilant joy. And they were flowing because your daddy has found his baby girl. Your daddy—who found you wailing in a dumpster—has taken the initiative to find you again.
Confused, enthralled, fearful, overjoyed—you can’t move.
But your father can. And so he races across the room to swallow you with an embrace—the first non-sexual touch you have felt in years. A touch that radiated more love than all your sexual encounters put together. You feel safe. You feel loved. You feel forgiven—instantly, as your Dad gathers your face with his hands and declares:
I’ll restore the relationship we had when you were young only this time it will be better. It will last forever and nothing will lure you away from me again. You’ll remember your past life and face the shame of it, but when I shower you with the good life you had as before and it will make your shame fade from your memory. Don’t try to fix it. I’ll fix it for you. I’ll make everything right after all you’ve done, it will leave you speechless (Ezek. 16:60-63 modified from The Message)
Grace. This stuff never gets old.