“When are you finally going to understand that I am here and I’m not going anywhere?” Carlos and I were standing in the Gomero (tire fixing place) waiting for two nails to be taken out of one of my tires. I was apologizing – again – for calling him to come and help me. He went on, “Sometimes, I feel as if you are talking to someone else, not to me.”
I really had nothing to say, because it was the truth. Even though Carlos has told me countless times that he loves me and wants to serve me, I cannot seem to accept it.
Even though he has shown me through his actions that these are more than just words, I doubt that anyone could feel that way about me. There must be some mistake, something I need to do to deserve this. Any day now, he’s going to wake up and then he’ll leave.I have heard (and said!) many times that Grace is free, but it is not cheap. It means that while God extends grace without cost to us (free), it was not cheap, in that the price was Jesus’ life.
I believe that, and I believe that there is a temptation to make grace cheap, and therefore, seemingly worthless. A danger in ignoring the cost and turning God into a giant, comfy teddy bear who requires nothing of us.
But, lately I’ve been concerned about going overboard the other way. As if it is somehow our duty as Christians to protect the grace and mercy of God, setting guidelines and barriers for how He will manifest these free gifts.So, I spend my days burdened by a need to prove that I am worthy of living in His freedom. Which, in a sad way, actually cheapens His grace. Because it becomes all about me. Me being thankful enough, pouring out enough, giving up enough. If not, God is going to come to his senses and realize His mistake and leave.
Like Carlos’ words to me, I have to wonder if sometimes God is inviting me to hear Him say, When will you finally understand I’m not going anywhere?It saddens me to think of Him watching me approach His throne, not in confidence, but head hanging down, groveling as I ask for the help He has told me He will provide. That instead of seeing God as my Father, I look at Him with fear and anxiety. If I don’t perform, He’ll be out of here.
As a missionary, I see a lot of brokenness, a lot of people in pain – much of it caused by their own poor choices. I feel a lot of pressure (self-inflicted!) to get them to accept Jesus.
Because God’s free grace was not cheap, to come to a saving knowledge of Him people need to understand the depth of their sin, the hopelessness of their lives apart from Him. Yes, this is true. But, if I never help them move beyond this to embrace His freedom, I have missed the point.The problem is, I’m not always living as if I believe it. Did Jesus’ one sacrifice on the cross cover all my sins, or not? Can I rest in the assurance that He has promised that I am in Him, and nothing can separate me from His love? Do I live an abundant life free from constant worry about disappointing Him with my mistakes?
Grace is not cheap, but when I add all kinds of requirements beyond the cross of Christ, I cheapen it. Through John, the Spirit tells the church in Ephesus that while they have done all kinds of things for the Kingdom, they have forgotten their first love (Revelation 2:1-4). In my zealousness, I have, too.And so, I’ve been shaken up spiritually, but it’s a good thing. I pray that I will continue to grow in trust. To grow in faith. To grow in the freedom of God’s grace and mercy. And, that I will share this freedom. In El Callejon, with Carlos, and every dark place where people do not know the free, expensive, extravagant gift of grace.