As part of an initiation into a martial arts group, the instructor reminds Randall that, “the world is not an easy place, especially for [black] men like us.” He then invites Jack to get into a push-up position, and tells Randall to lie down on his father’s back.
“Jack you’re back was built to carry your son through life. Are you willing to hold him up no matter what comes his way? To raise him to be a strong man, to be the best in the world that he can be; to lift him to greater heights even if it hurts?” With each question, Jack does a push up. And with each push up, my heart wells up with emotions as tears stream down my face. It’s a beautiful mess…but then again, This Is Us. And God loves us in all our messiness.
I think what gets me about this moment between a father and son is that it reminds me of how has God’s grace and love has carried me. Just as Jack shows Randall that he is willing to carry him through life – no matter what – God gave us the same promise when he sent Christ to carry us and shoulder our sin. This Is Us in God’s grace.
God didn’t pick the best of the people to call his own; God made a promise to carry all of us, even if we can offer nothing in return. Such faithfulness is sometimes hard to understand. We often prefer the idea of karma, in that what we do will come back to us. God’s love and grace refuses to play by the rules of reciprocity, fairness, and evenhandedness.
In a 2010 interview, Bono, of the band U2, had this to say: “Grace upended all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff…Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”
Moreover, it is by God’s grace alone that we are adopted into God’s family, and can participate in God’s redemption and restoration to the world. The grace we receive is shared in the world. It empowers us to love others with the love of Christ that was given to us.
Such love can be overwhelming - causing tears to well up and spill out from time to time. If and when that happens, I invite you to climb on the back of God who holds you, carries you, and lifts you up to be the best “you” that you were meant to be.
Prayer: Holy Parent, in your divine mercy, you have given me another day of grace. Allow me to not only receive it into my heart but to pass it on to others so that they too might be overwhelmed by your love and become your child in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.