Funny little Jungle House bird - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS


I’ve been thinking about grace a lot in the last few weeks, ever since I had the wreck. I’ve been driving since I was fifteen; I’ve been driving by myself since I was sixteen. And the only wrecks I’ve ever had were caused by someone else. So this is a new experience for me: dealing with the guilt of being one who caused it. I’m just so thankful that no one was hurt; if someone had died or even been sent to the hospital, I don’t know how I could have lived with myself.

What continually amazed me that entire day was how kind everyone was. The officer who responded was outside her jurisdiction. The poor lady had just been going to buy turtlenecks, and she was closest. Turns out that the intersection of Central and Broadway is one of the ones everybody argues over as far as jurisdictional issues, and it might have taken longer to get someone else there otherwise. But she stopped. And she was wonderful. Not only efficient but funny. She stayed with us until everything was sorted out.

Then, the insurance people I dealt with were kind. Understanding. Reassuring. And insurance people don’t have to be that way. But mine were.

And the big kicker is that the local car dealership in my town was willing to let me borrow a new car off their lot to drive without rent until I bought another car. Granted, they knew I would be buying that car from them, but that still didn’t mean they had to let me borrow a car without charging me.

And my parents? They had the right to be angrier at me than anyone, but they weren’t. They both showed up, kept the situation light, and have been a constant source of support through the whole process.

I’d never experienced unmerited favor this way, where I had done something unforgivable and people were willing to let it go and be kind to me above and beyond what I deserved. At least, that’s what I thought at first … until I really thought about it. And in actuality, I experience this kind of unmerited favor on a daily basis.

Funny little Jungle House bird - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Funny little Jungle House bird – Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Romans 5:8.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Do we get that? I’m not sure I did. I mean, I believe it 100%. I believe Christ died for me. I believe He paid the price for my sins to allow me to have a one-on-one, face-to-face relationship with God Himself. I believe that God has adopted me into His family through Christ’s sacrifice.

But what this entire ordeal has taught me is that there’s a big difference between accepting Christ and accepting grace.

Maybe this isn’t a revolutionary concept to anyone else, but I’ve never had a moment in my life where I’ve screwed up so badly. I cheated on a test or two in high school. I lied some. I lost my temper, had rebellious thoughts, disobeyed. But not like this. And to come face to face with my own fallibility has thrown me for a loop, not that I thought I was the best person in the world but that I’d always been able to walk away from sin, generally speaking.

But this? This was my fault. And I can’t shift blame or point fingers anywhere else. It was my responsibility to be a good driver, and I was careless. And three people were inconvenienced because of it–one truck driver and two ladies in a Honda. Yeah, fortunately no one was hurt, but I’ve been on the receiving end of enough careless drivers to know the frustration and anger you go through.

What I had to learn to wrap my head around throughout that whole day was that, yes, I screwed up, but people still cared about me. I had done wrong, but that didn’t mean that people were going to drop me or shun me. I think what the whole ordeal has shown me is an actual physical, personal example of what Christ has done for me.

When I screwed up (not even maliciously; more unwittingly than anything else), He loved me enough to sacrifice Himself so I could have life. And I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t even pay for it. I couldn’t give Him anything in return, just tell Him that I’m sorry and trust that He was going to take care of it. And He did.

I think I had begun to take today’s verse for granted, kind of like I took my driving record for granted. I was a good driver. I hadn’t caused any wrecks ever, so why worry about running a red light? Surely that could never happen to someone like me. Kind of like my Christian walk. I’m a good person. I knew I couldn’t do anything to earn my salvation but I’d never done anything “bad enough” to cause me to question it. Not really.

Well … lesson learned. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to run a red light again any time soon because I’ll never forget what it felt like to see how kindly people were treating me when I absolutely didn’t deserve it. Just like Christ did.

Red rose in the Glen Eyrie Rose Garden - Colorado Springs, CO


Do you ever wish that people could get what they deserve? Because many times it feels like they don’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been passed by a reckless driver when there’s no cop in sight. And then I get a ticket because I forget to signal a left-hand turn.  Or what about at work? It’s frustrating to watch people who don’t work receive the same benefits that you do when you’re killing yourself. Just like it’s irritating to watch people who live immoral lives prospering when you make all the right choices and are barely scraping by.

It makes me wish that people could get what they deserve because then maybe life would be more fair. But that begs the question: what do “bad” people deserve? What do “good” people deserve? And how do you define the difference between the two?

Because maybe someone is a good person but just tends to drive faster than is “safe.” Maybe someone is a good person and just has trouble concentrating at work. Maybe someone wasn’t raised to understand the dangers of an immoral lifestyle, but that doesn’t make them a “bad” person. The reverse is true. Just because you abide by the law, word hard and live right doesn’t make you a “good” person either.

When it comes down to it, I don’t think there are bad people or good people; we’re all just people. None of us are perfect, and if we’re honest about who we are and how we think and how we live, we’d understand that we really don’t deserve anything. At least, we don’t deserve anything from someone who is perfect.

Red rose in the Glen Eyrie Rose Garden - Colorado Springs, CO

Red rose in the Glen Eyrie Rose Garden – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Romans 3:24.

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

I get trapped into thinking that I deserve good things sometimes. After all, I follow Christ. I obey Scripture. I live the way God says. So shouldn’t I deserve to be blessed?

That’s where the fine line between deserving and expecting comes into play. I don’t think any of us deserve any good thing that God does for us. But at the same time, we should expect good things. Why? Because God has promised to do good things for people who follow Him, whether we deserve them or not.

Remember, God is perfect. Truly righteous. How can Someone who is utterly perfect ever owe someone who isn’t? Because that’s what deserving is about. I was curious about the word origin of deserve so I wandered over to the Online Etymology Dictionary, and this is what I found:

deserve – late 13c., from O.Fr. deservir, from L. deservire “serve well,” from de- “completely” + servire “to serve.” From “be entitled to because of good service” (s sense found in L.L.), meaning generalized c.1300 to “be worthy of.”

If you’re not accustomed to reading dictionary entries, let me summarize. The word deserve comes from Old French, derived from Latin. Basically, the original word stemmed from the phrase “to be entitled to because of good service” which was generalized into “to be worthy of” later on.
To be entitled to because of good service.
Like a good waiter is entitled to a decent tip. Like an actor is entitled to a standing ovation after a brilliant performance. If you want to deserve something, you have to do something for the person who is rewarding you.
So tell me, when was the last time you did something for God?
The plain and simple truth is that none of us deserve anything from God, let alone kindness. Salvation, being made right with God through Christ, is a gift that’s greater than anything in the world. No one deserves it. No one can earn it. No one can change it. You can either accept it or reject it.
If God gave us what we deserved — what we really deserve — life would look a whole lot different. If God were truly fair, none of us would have salvation because none of us have done anything to merit it. Maybe we treat each other right every now and then. Maybe we put others first on occasion. Maybe we tell the truth most of the time. But all the time? Every day? That’s doubtful, even for the “best” person in the world.
In all of human history, there’s only been one perfect person, and God had Him killed so we could live free.
So how do you normally react when someone gives you something good you don’t deserve? Personally, I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that I don’t know what to say. I just know I want to say thank you however I can. And that holds true with what God has given me too.
So that’s what I’m pondering today: how can I show God how thankful I am for what He’s given me?