Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Getting what I don't deserve

What if this is God’s message? Not a message that starts by pounding you over the head with guilt, but a message that catches you when you least deserve it and pours out love to win you? Maybe it’s obvious to the rest of you, but I didn’t grow up hearing that message, and the possibility of it has been eating at me for months now.

Two months of my salary was taken, and we were fuming. It was a small offense, I came to realize later, compared to losing all your belongings, having your body or mind taken from you, losing a child. But still, these words hit my previously “enemy-less” world with a thud.

"If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. Live generously.” (Jesus, Mt. 5:41-42)

If my wallet was stolen, I’d hardly think to chase the offender and hand him my husband’s wallet too. But it would mess with his mind for sure, and probably mine too. Jesus and his Father do this sort of thing over and over. There is justice, but there is way more grace. I never noticed, I never understood. I started to, and after a few months I sent a big flower bouquet instead of a lawyer.

I glimpse this again as John and I marked 10 years of marriage and again as we live near extended family for the first time. You blow me away when you do my dishes in spite of me snapping at you. You come to my house and clean up my messes, even though all I do at your house is make messes. We see each other’s crap because we see each other every day and there is no glossing over it. We are sometimes even hurt by it, and we either let the resentment and irritation build or give an unmerited double helping of love instead.

Every time I receive love instead of what I deserve, it stops me in my tracks, makes me consider grace and mercy, and points me to a loving God. When I give one person what they don’t deserve, I start seeing everyone around me a little differently, start being gentler with them.

My lost $2000 is pocket change. Being forgiven 70x7 times by you, more notable. Forgiving a murderer? Giving them a second chance?!? This stuff starts to shake me up. It’s radical. It’s different. I want to know more about the God that would inspire this insanity, the God who catches our attention by giving us what we don’t deserve, the God who tells us to give others what they don’t deserve.