Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mercies Ever New

'sunrise' photo (c) 2011, Sean MacEntee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Every year, for as long as I can remember, I've been plotting, planning, and scheming how I was suddenly going to become a better person.

Forget New Year's resolutions. Every sunrise was a fresh opportunity to decide to become a brand-new, superbly organized, utterly holy, and perfectly disciplined me... after I hit the snooze button a few more times.

It's dawning on me that this hasn't worked out very well.

This year I want to give up on trying to be the one person in all the world who doesn't need God's mercy, and just focus on saying "yes" to God's free gift of grace.

Accepting God's free gift.

That was the focus of every Sunday School or VBS altar call that I can remember, and a source of great anxiety for me. Every gift must be received before it can be possessed, but what on earth does it mean to accept God's grace? How do I know if I've really done it?

It was a little vague and abstract for me, but I figured that all this meant that my eternal destiny depended on having the right subjective emotions.

This could make me pretty irritable sometimes. When people were obnoxious, they didn't just annoy me, they threatened my sense of eternal security. That made me very angry.

I'm pretty sure I was missing the point.

Accepting God's free gift of grace has a whole lot less to do with how I feel, and a whole lot more to do  with how I treat other people.

This year, by the grace of God, I want to stop worrying about how sincere I am in my heart, and start living in such a way that it would actually be safe for me to pray the Lord's Prayer with sincerity.

Father, forgive us... in the same way that we forgive.

Because of what Jesus did for us at the cross, God has offered us a free and completely undeserved invitation to enter into his Jubilee. To step out of the world of demanded rights and just deserts, into the world of forgiven sins and cancelled debts.

Because of Jesus' freely offered sacrifice, I now have a choice as to whether or not I really want to keep hanging on to everything that I deserve by rights. This includes courtesy from other drivers, mind-reading from my husband, non-embarrassing behavior from my kids, and a whole lot of other really nice things that mean a lot to me. It also includes eternal damnation from Almighty God.

This year I want to let go of all the things that I deserve by rights, and start saying "yes" to God's mercy.

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