My grandma, Nana, died almost twenty years ago, but before she passed away she lived with my family and was nursed, in our home, by my mother after she suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed on one side.
While sorting through the crowded drawer of Nana’s old wooden hutch my mom discovered Nana’s banking ledger. Living with Nana, for as far back as I can remember, gave me the distinct privilege of knowing her well, but as my mom and I stopped our work and leafed through her ledger, I learned something new and precious about my grandmother: My Nana was a woman of grace.
Years ago, when my mom was still a child my grandma and grandpa ran a general store in rural Mississippi. For years, Nana kept their books by hand, and even after their store closed she continued to keep track of debts and transactions between her and a myriad of people throughout her lifetime.
Carefully my mom and I turned the ancient pages of her ledger. In her elegant handwriting I read the names and accounts of clients, friends and relatives. There must have been a thousand entries each recording the ways that Nana loaned money or gave aid to people in need.
Along with names, dates and figures, I noticed that each and every page of the ledger was covered with an “X.”
“In her will, Nana forgave every debt,” my mom said. “The “X’s” show that the debts were cancelled.”
My eyes filled with tears at the memory of my sweet Nana, of her generosity and goodness, and I said softly, “This is a ledger of grace.”
There on every page in the form of an inky blue “X”: Grace.
Mom and I went on with our work but as I worked I thought of Nana. Not only did Nana cancel the debts of many, she chose to leave an inheritance. Even when significant amounts of money were never repaid, Nana chose to leave monetary provisions for people she wanted to bless, for people who were in need.
Nana’s ledger isn’t just a record of her banking transactions; it is a picture of Christ. Just as Nana covered each debt that filled the lines of her ledger with an “X,” Christ took the sin that filled the entire world and covered it with one wooden cross.
Imagine the pages of God’s ledger. Every page a person, owing the debt of sin. Every page covered with a blood stained “X,” that speaks one word: Forgiven. He gave us the gift of grace and loved us with the opportunity to live in relationship with him. This is our cancelled debt, this is our inheritance.
Finding Nana’s ledger has helped me to remember her legacy of grace and has also challenged me to consider the ways in which I can give grace, the ways in which I can go beyond, the ways in which I can follow grace with love. Every time we model grace, we model the cross. Every time we give love, we give God.
If ever I need a reminder of grace I can turn to the pages of Nana’s ledger. I can read the debts, I can see the “X’s,” and I can remember, just as she did, the cross.