Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gift of Love and Grace

(This blog has been neglected for a couple of weeks; I’ve been busy catching up on paper grading and also, spring-breaking.)

In my last entry, I told a little story about Eddie, an employee at a self-service gas station that is part of a convenience store in our small town. Eddie often offered to pump gas for people, even though it is a do-it-yourself establishment.

He told me he was amazed at how people resisted letting him serve them, free of charge. He said, “You can’t imagine how hard it is for people to accept something that is absolutely free, no strings attached.”

I missed the opportunity to tell him what I thought of immediately, because I was too timid: People have trouble understanding that God offers forgiveness, new life, and wholeness of spirit, free of charge. Or maybe we can understand it intellectually. We think we don’t deserve it, though, so we have difficulty accepting it.

Well, the truth is, we don’t deserve it. And there is no possible way to work hard enough to earn it. It is free—a gift of grace. “Grace” means undeserved favor.

It isn’t necessary for us to go halfway there or to give 90 percent. God through his son Jesus gave it all—sacrificed everything to take whatever blame we deserve. New life is possible now, this minute. It is a gift of love.

I had the perfect chance to talk to Eddie about that, but I missed it. I thought, “The next time he pumps my gas, I’ll say to him, ‘Eddie, remember when you said . . . .’”

But that time never came, and soon Eddie was gone—he moved away or went to work somewhere else, and I never saw him again. I think Eddie would understand God’s gift.

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