If the Coat Fits … (A Lesson on Grace)

October 17, 2011 | 30 comments

I hold the cell phone between my ear and shoulder while my fingers run across stacked denim in a consignment store, a warehouse of leftovers.

The friend on the other end of the phone is talking about Jesus in a way that gives me an acute awareness of something that’s been missing. I feel like her words cut eye-holes into my soul, and she doesn’t even know it.

I ask her to repeat things. Say the verse again, the one where Jesus talks about forsaking your first love.

She steps through Revelation 2; I walk through aisles of Nearly New Town.

This is a room crowded with unwanted things, taken from overstuffed drawers and closets. These things were once new, but now, they are cast-offs waiting until someone else sees the value they still hold.

I smell the musty, attic-y scent of the discarded. I remember the stench of my own sin.

I lean against a wall back near the dressing rooms, curtained confession booths. I muffle into the phone how I fail daily. It shocks me, the way I sin the way I do, the way my two-faced heart daily forsakes my first love, Christ. 

A customer turns her head and eyes me over the racks.

Confessing it out loud to my friend, I regain sight. How do I forget so easily? Here among the consigned, I listen to her talk about the cross, the place where the alert Christian always regains the thrill of her own forgiveness. Drawn to Calvary, we fall again and again — fall to the knees and fall in love — only to stand up wearing garments we could never have purchased on our own.  I shake my head at the absurdity of it all: robed righteousness even for a wretch like me.

In the aisle of a small-town Iowa consignment shop, I remember it once again. I remember what grace really is:  I get to go where I don’t deserve to go, while wearing someone else’s clothes.

I pull an old coat from a hanger, and slip it over my shoulders. This one fits.


Photo submitted as part of The High Calling’s Photo-Play, in which we are asked to experiment with contre-jour, turning the camera toward the light and positioning your subject between the camera and the light source.
Writing in community with Michelle and L.L. …

by | October 17, 2011 | 30 comments


  1. Megan Willome

    “Here among the consigned”–yes! Beautiful “Kelly Effect” photo, too.

    • Lyla Lindquist

      I was stopped by the same line as Megan.

      Among the consigned.

      So glad you found something that fit. 😉

      • dukeslee

        Thanks for helping me “shop,” Lyla. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Megan. You like the photo, really? I was a bit self-conscious about using it, so I appreciate the vote of confidence. I took about 30 shots of that coat, readjusting all those mysterious dials on my camera. And I still couldn’t quite get the whole Kelly Effect. Ah well… I had fun trying. Thanks for your encouragement.

  2. S. Etole

    One never knows what treasure will be found in a consignment shop!

  3. HisFireFly

    Oh this falling and failing and finding ourselves on our kness, knowing that He knows…

    and that we lean toward taking Him for granted again and again…

    let us burn, hot, with a passion we haven’t yet imagined

  4. Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

    LOVE this, Jennifer…the consignment shop…the “wearing someone else’s clothes” (WoW!)….and I think the photo is stunning. Truly.

  5. Erin

    The best part is, that the clothes He gives us to wear aren’t His castoffs, but His very best. Always His best. And how often do I treat them like they are junk found at the bottom of the pile at Goodwill.

    Thank you for this. Grace is amazing.

    • Carolyn

      Amen! He does give us His very best!

  6. Diana Trautwein

    Ah yes – sadly, yes. But then…grace. Thank you.

  7. Dea

    The size? Grace coat–one size fits all. 🙂

  8. Stephani

    This verse about forsaking our first love, I’ve heard again and again this week. Is God telling me something. He is working on me. The noise in my life has been drowning him out, even when I am bowed down in my quiet time. So much noise in my head, the noise of my life, taking my spirit from him to everthing but him.

    • dukeslee

      God has a habit of doing this, it seems. Putting the same message out there, over and over again. I need the repitition. I have thick-skull syndrome. 🙂

      • Dolly @ Soul Stops

        I’m with you Jennifer; I need repetition also…apparently St. Ignatius thought so also for The Spiritual Exercises that he developed.

  9. Sheila Lagrand

    “only to stand up wearing garments we could never have purchased on our own. I shake my head at the absurdity of it all: robed righteousness even for a wretch like me.”

    Yes. Thank you.

  10. Monica Sharman

    This is fabulous. Growing up with sisters 9, 10, and 11 years older, I wore their clothes a lot!

    Yeah…love wearing those robes of righteousness.

    • dukeslee

      I had two older sisters — six and 12 years older than me. So I didn’t have many hand-me-downs. I was a “surprise.” 🙂

  11. David Lord

    The right clothes to be garbed in, Praise God! Well written, much appreciated.

  12. Connie@raise your eyes

    I love that you took GOD’s words in deep while in the midst of the perfect setting. Thank you for sharing so we can be reminded also.

    • dukeslee

      I love how God shows up in the most unexpected places. Thanks Connie …

  13. emily wierenga

    and how that coat makes you look beautiful, dear jennifer.

    love you.

  14. debra

    Beautiful … words and you. Love you friend.

  15. ~ linda

    Words turning into a deep meaning for me as well. Thanks for the insights. May your day be filled with brightness in the midst of the racks of someone else’s clothing.
    ~ linda

  16. Carolyn

    The photo is awesome, Jennifer. Truly.

    I love shopping in second-hand stores. You just never know what treasure you will find.

    Stop and think of how the world sees the giver of our new coats of glory: an illegitimate child grows into what some think is a crazy man and He suffers a shameful, humiliating death. To some, He was worthless, just like the cast off clothes in that store you were in. To those of us who have heeded the call, He is priceless treasure. Awesome stuff.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  17. Ruthie

    I so needed to hear this today – thank you.

  18. Patricia

    How amazing that his grace fits each one of us perfectly. I love this story… that we have been purchased once, and consigned to his kingdom… to share with others what once was brand new to us…
    remembering who I was…

  19. T @ aseedinspired

    the coat you wear will always set off your eyes/vision.

    • dukeslee

      Oooo … Love that, T. Love that a lot.

  20. Beth E.

    Love this post…consignment shops remind me of the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I’m so glad that through the ugliness of sin in my life, God saw me as something beautiful.

    Yes, as Dea said, that grace coat is a one-size-fits-all garment. I am honored and blessed to wear it! 🙂

  21. Cheryl

    This blesses my heart more than you know. Thank you <3


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