I enjoy shopping. I always have. There is something so satisfying about finding good deals and having something new to bring home. It is also satisfying to be able to provide for yourself, to take care, and supply yourself with what you need to live. A problem with this situation is that somebody really smart figured that out and they got a job in advertising. Knowing the satisfaction that comes with having new things, their job is to figure out ways to convince people that they need these new things. Our culture has become obsessed with consuming. Our culture is so obsessed with purchasing that we even try to do that with God’s love.
When I first came to believe, I used to beat myself up pretty badly. All I could really think about was all of the things that I was doing wrong. I let my sins overwhelm me and I became anguished by my inability to “control” myself. Living like that kind of made the whole “being a Christian” thing not feel very good. I wanted to give up, to say the least. When I would confide in others, they would tell me “I don’t think that you understand God’s grace.” I didn’t even know what the phrase “God’s grace” really meant, so I knew that I definitely didn’t understand how it worked.
In the Preschool where I work they call praying “Grace”. We “say Grace” before every snack and lunch time. During our music circle times you can sometimes hear the other teachers say things like, “Okay, two more songs and then Grace”. Now that I know that grace means “the freely given, unmerited favour and love of God”, I realize that it doesn’t really make sense to call our prayers “Grace”. I mean no disrespect, but it sounds so silly doesn’t it? Yet how many times have I subconsciously thought that way; how many times have I tried to barter with God? When I first came to believe, that was how I was trying to live my life. I was trying to buy God’s forgiveness by doing things for Him, by ‘quitting’ my sins, by going to church. “Okay, I’ll sing these next two songs and then I’ll get me some grace; I’m pretty sure I’ll be forgiven after that.”
I am so thankful that God revealed a little more of His truth to me, because I think that I would’ve given up on God by trying to live that kind of Christianity. Who wouldn’t? The psalmist writes: “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3).
Becoming a believer hasn’t made me any less a sinner. Living forgiven has allowed me to let go of my pride, admit that I am a sinner, and accept God’s love. Living forgiven has allowed me to see my sins but know that God remembers them no more. Living forgiven has allowed me to confess that I am not like God and gives me the courage to try to be like Him. You have to accept God’s love before you can love Him back, and you have to love Him to obey Him.
It is pretty strange to live within a system where nobody owes anybody anything; it feels wrong not to have to pay for my sins. I see now that, in the beginning, I was trying to earn my forgiveness. I couldn’t accept that God loved me without feeling like I had to do something to deserve it. I wanted to take care of it myself. But grace is freely given. Grace is the unmerited favour and love of God.
Another phrase commonly heard in our preschool is “Let’s put our hands together for Grace”. This is when we bring out our praying hands. To that I say, “Yes! Let’s put our hands together and give it up for God’s grace!”
Now that makes sense!