“So, what do you suppose the ‘throne of grace’ looks like?” I asked. Some time ago my family and I were reading through Hebrews together after dinner. It’s not an every single dinner ritual; we do it about every other night. Rather than get up and move elsewhere, we stay at the table, and any one of us might do the reading.
Ever the imaginative one, Emma offered, “I picture a big, beautiful, golden throne with God on it, and this long, long line of people snaking along toward it. That’s what I imagine. Just because I imagine it, doesn’t mean that will make it happen, you know. It’s just the way I see it.” She was sure we needed to be clear on this whole imagination thing.
“Alright—I like that, Emma,” I said. “Now, how are people talking to God, what are they saying to Him who is seated on the throne of grace?” I asked. My wife, Sarah, gave me one of those, “I know what you’re getting at” kind of looks. Ellen and Emma pretty much defaulted to the television portrayal of Pharoah on the throne, and said, “Oh, please, God! Give me what I need! Answer ‘Yes’ to my requests. Please, God!” I loved their dramatics, but not their picture.
And I wondered how many of us default to that picture of God on the throne, too.
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s pretend that it’s me on the throne—your daddy. How would you approach me?” Emma instantly got out of her chair, cut to the front of the imaginary line (“Excuse me. Pardon me,” she said), crawled up on my lap and said, “I love you, daddy! I love you! Can I have a gerbil? Can I have my own computer? Can I? Can I?” Sarah and Ellen laughed, and Ellen said, “We don’t have to beg with you, and we don’t have to beg with God, either. That would be silly!” Sarah asked, “And why don’t we have to beg God? Why don’t we have to plead with Him who sits on the throne of grace?”
And together Ellen and Emma blurted, “Because it’s the throne of grace, not the throne of begging! We already have everything with God because of Jesus. We’re in Him, so God gives us everything because of that.” With grins bursting upon their faces, they asked, “Did you forget that, daddy?”
We all love this.
I asked, “Okay, so what do you suppose is most important and most honoring to God as we approach Him, seated on the throne of grace?” Still laughing, Ellen said, “That we believe we’re always welcome and always wanted and will always get what’s right from God because of His love and grace to us. Not because we beg just right, but because we’re His and we believe Him. That’s how it works, dad.”
And we were done. If I had had a football, I would have spiked it and done one of those silly, swivel-butt dances football players do in the end zone. (It’s probably good that I didn’t have a ball.) I loved what my daughters were understanding and that they were having fun with it. That’s very important to us.
That’s what I think the fourth chapter of Hebrews is about: believe God is who He says He is, believe we are who He says we are, believe our relationship is as excellent as He says it is because of Jesus, and, hanging onto that, hang out at the throne! It’s that good. Put your confidence in Him and in what He says is true of you and how He is toward you. He’s the one who made it happen, He’s the one who secured you, and He’s the one who has given you all things because of His goodness and love.
I know it often takes some work to hang onto faith in Him rather than faith in you, but you really will find rest when your faith comes to rest and satisfaction in Him, who made it all happen.
And that’s how it works. Or, as my daughters asked me, “Did you forget?”
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).