I remember growing up in a Christian family and somehow having the idea that I am supposed to be the good kid. The good example. The one who always does the right thing. And that if I succeed, I will be granted God’s favor, and that He will give me what I deserve. No one taught me this non-sense, but for some reason, I ended up believing it.
Later, as I grew up, I realized that most of the times, I wanted everyone to get what they deserve – in the most vindictive meaning of the term – but for me, my brothers whom I dearly loved, my parents and my best friends, I wanted grace. I didn’t want justice; I wanted grace.
We all do that, don’t we? We want God to be harsh with those who hurt us, and we want Him to be kind and generous with us when we make a mistake – even if our mistake hurts someone else.
Then, after a while, I realized that I rarely – if ever – got from God what I thought I deserved. I rarely got blessed when I felt as if I deserve to be compensated for something that I did (which in my eyes seemed stupendous and amazing and wonderful). But also, I felt that the things I thought were “punishments” from God came randomly and not as a consequence of what I though I should be punished for by God. I started wondering about my way of thinking, my way of measuring my sanctity and my sinfulness, and God’s way.
You see, the good things in my life – my amazing dad; my amazing husband; my loyal dog; my intellect and my studies; my portfolio – all these things somehow vanished away. My father died when I was 15. My husband died when I was 25; I had to adopt out my dog when I moved from one country to another; my highly acclaimed studies, in which I invested years and years, they are not recognized in the U.S. – it was all left behind in Europe, when I decided to move to the U.S. I longed after all these things for months, and I felt as if part of me was left behind. Being an Architect was who I was. It was really hard to accept a transition from being respected and quite known in a large city, to moving to a small rural village in the anonymous Yakima, WA, with no kind of qualifications at all. But what woke me up was my lack of trust in God. It just so happened that I realized one morning, how little I trust God and just how much I trust myself.
At the same time, God brought up to my attention other sins from my past that I have not asked to be forgiven for. I asked God to forgive me, but in spite of me asking Him to forgive my sin of lack of trust and all my other sins that were on a very long list, I asked myself: “How do I know I am forgiven?” And the words of Mark Driscoll rang in my ears: “You didn’t deserve it in the first place…”
That’s true. I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness to begin with. When someone turns to God and feels the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace of having been forgiven and being accepted and loved, they don’t want to loose that peace. However, in our daily business, we sin again. And again. And again.
How do we know God doesn’t get tired forgiving us?
We didn’t deserve his forgiveness in the first place. He forgave us because He loves us.
How do we know God doesn’t get tired bringing redemption in our life?
We didn’t deserve redemption in the first place. He brought redemption through Jesus Christ because He loved us.
How do we know God doesn’t get tired to bring happiness in our lives?
We didn’t deserve happiness to begin with. He gave us happiness because He loves us.
How do I know that God will fulfill my intellectual needs? I didn’t deserve to have them fulfilled to begin with. In an arid land, in a post-communist culture in Romania, God fulfilled my cultural and intellectual needs by giving me a career that brought me a professional satisfaction I didn’t deserve. He did it once, He will do it again; I didn’t deserve it in the first place.
How do I know God had put all my sins behind me and forgave me and gave a fresh start? I didn’t deserve Him to do it in the first place. Yet, in spite of me deserving to be forgotten by Him, left for damnation and cursed, He sent His Son to die for me. It has nothing to do with me, my salvation. It has to do with who He is.
How do I know that my happiness was not all gone after my husband died? God brought me a new husband, after eight years of widowhood. He didn’t have to bless me with a partner in the first place. He did it because He loved me. He didn’t have to bless me with a second marriage. He did it because He loves me. And if He wouldn’t have brought my precious Bryan along, I would have still known that He loves me, because my happiness is not conditioned by my marital status. It is conditioned by being loved by God and living a life of continuous growth and sanctification.
Whatever He decides to take away from me, I can trust Him to bring it back or to bring something better instead – because nothing that I have I deserve. I don’t deserve to see. I don’t deserve to hear. I don’t deserve to have a body and a soul and a spirit. I wouldn’t even exist, if He wouldn’t have decided to create me. I own nothing.
I am so glad He doesn’t hold back from me anything that I don’t deserve. I am so happy I don’t get what I do rightfully deserve – death due to my inherited sinful nature and due to my own sins.
Nobody deserves grace. Grace is not something that we can squeeze out of God. God being gracious with us has nothing to do with what we deserve – it is, in fact, the opposite. We deserve to live under the curse, with no way out. Whenever God is good to you and blesses you with a good partner, remember, that is a GIFT from God. It’s not what you deserve.