This morning I come cotton-mouthed and jelly kneed... rattled and confused... thoughtful. Wondering. Surprised. Humbled. Self-conscious. Uncertain. Speechless.
Someone just handed me $1000.00.
Yes. One. Thousand. Doll. Lars.
I did not sneak an extra Zero in there.
And... it's not like it was my grandma or something. It was someone I would say I hardly know. Someone my OWN AGE. In a very similar stage of life. They just... freaking, handed us a grand. Like that. The memo line reads: "Gift". The card says, "Please accept this with Joy."
Joy was not my first emotion, actually.
My first thought was, "There must have been a mistake."
My second thought was, "Nope. I will not accept that. That's ridiculous."
My third thought was, "What the actual heck is going on right now?"
I didn't go straight to Joy.
I wanted to rationalize it. But I couldn't. So I wanted to give it back.
This was undeserved. This was unmerited. That made me very uncomfortable.
In our lives, we often get what we have earned. Sometimes we get less than we think we deserve. Occasionally we feel like we have gotten our full due, but we likely had to work our asses off for it. But NO ONE HANDS YOU A REWARD THIS HUGE FOR NO GOOD REASON.
No one does this. No one. This is not a thing. Nope. Nada. Crazy talk.
Then my heart heard a story... it crept silently into my mind... it rattled me.
You were dead in your trespasses and sins... but God, who is rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead---made us alive.
By grace... by grace... by grace you have been saved, AND RAISED UP with him, AND SEATED with him in the heavenly places with Jesus Christ. But why?
So that in the ages to come he might show the surpassing/overwhelming/out-of-bounds riches of his grace in kindness toward us. (Ephesians 2)
Talk about unmerited and undeserved! I wasn't in the dog house for something naughty I did to disappoint. I was in the grave. Yet, he was moved.
He was moved by his great love for me. Why?
He was moved by his great, spilling, powerful passion toward the creature who had no intrinsic beauty, who had done nothing, who could give him nothing, who would cost him everything. Why?
His heart cried out, "I long to show surpassing/overwhelming/out-of-bounds riches of grace to her."
Why? I'm not gonna even lie... it makes me a little uncomfortable.
So often, in the face of so free a gift, so rich a mercy, so great a love, so saturated a kindness... I don't go straight to Joy. First I go to unworthy, unmerited, undeserving, uncomfortable. Then I go to "Why?" And when I can't find a Why, I want to reject it.
But we can't ask why. I mean, we can. Why is a good question. I'm very Pro-Why. But we won't find the answer to the burning Why within the fabric of our own lives. We won't. In a way, we just have to let go of "why" and rejoice. As the card under the stupidly ridiculously over the top $1000.00 check instructed, we just have to "accept this gift with Joy."
We have to let the emotion push up in the back of our throats. We have to let the power of it charge the cells of human kindness and compassion that will fuel our humble walk through this earth. We have to let it galvanize us towards a posture of giving ourselves away. A attitude that says, I can't give myself away fast enough or freely enough or with enough delight... because I was dead. And he loved me. He loved us. We were bound in the slavery of debtor's prison and he poured out heaven's treasure to buy us back... to liberate us... to set us on a free path to live into the fullness of our true selves before him... for no other reason except that it made his heart glad.
There is no Why. There is only Joy.
Before today, I don't know if I've ever experienced so tangible an example of what Unmerited Favor feels like. It humbles my heart so dramatically it's hard for me to explain. It even stings a little. It brings the Gospel into focus. It inspires me to want to live Up And Into grace. To not waste life. To not waste the gift. To touch others with the Touchedness I have been touched by.
But ultimately... I don't think I could ever live up to a gift that big. Whatever I do with my life could never equal what He did with His. Whatever I do with the dollars could never be as significant as the story that it created in my heart. So there is only Joy.
I'm going to resist my first impulses to deserve or to reject. I could never deserve. And it's only my pride that would reject. I'm going to receive. I'm going to receive Grace with Joy.
Receive grace with Joy, friends. The richest treasure is held out to us, and there are a lot of Whys that can get in the way. There's a lot of pride, logic, knowledge, fear, that can cloud the way to a liberated life of love... but there it is. Free gift. If you can accept the ridiculous gift with Ridiculous Joy, how might that Joy revolutionize and galvanize your life? It could change the world.