I Don’t Get What I Deserve – And That’s The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

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.

Pulling Your Heart When You Can Barely Drag Your Legs

The New Year started a few days back. It’s a celebration outside, but on the inside, who knows what it is in everyone’s soul?

This New Year’s Eve and the first day of the year have been great for me. I have spent them with my husband and our dogs. We are building a manufacturing shop, so we made plans and reviewed the progress that we made in the previous year. I had cinnamon tea and we watched movies. It was a peaceful holiday, and my soul was satisfied in God. He gave me all these; He gave me a second time to experience what I call “heaven on earth”.

Not all new years started like this. In fact, only three years ago, I dreaded having to wake up to a new year. It was yet another very bad new beginning of a yet another bad year, like the previous 6 years.

My first husband died 9 years ago on Christmas Eve, and the mourning and pain cast thick shadows on all the holiday celebrations; it felt like the celebrations were part of a reality that was parallel with my reality. My reality was that I was crushed. And celebrations only reminded me how crushed I was and how deeply I have been wounded.

I remember looking in the Psalms so many times; looking ad David and wondering about his praises. Wondering how or why was he praising God from the caves that he was hiding in; his father in law was trying to kill him but David was praising God. I heard so many interpretations of the psalms. So many bad sermons about how you need to smack yourself into happiness. And the truth is, sometimes it really doesn’t work to “decide” to be happy. When you are barely dragging your legs out of the bed in the morning, hating that you are alive and your lifetime partner is not; when you ask yourself “why him and not me?” – you cannot drag yourself into happiness. And quite frankly, I doubt David had any super-capacity to drag himself into happiness; I don’t think he was dragging himself into positive thinking and into positive feelings. I think he was commanding his soul what to do. He was not dragging his heart – he was pulling it.

The difference between dragging and puling? The direction. When you drag yourself around, you have no direction. When you pull yourself, you do have a direction.

You see, David was not dragging his soul into happiness. We don’t know what happiness is. We might think we do, but we were created to be holly, and true happiness is only to be found in the presence of God, as we reflect Him. But nobody’s heart defines happiness as holiness, although that is the only happiness that is real – and not barely a mirage. David was not telling his heart to praise God so that his heart would be dragged into happiness. David was telling his heart to praise God because his heart was wounded and he needed a doctor. God lives in the middle of the praises of His people. When we praise God, we open the door to the doctor. God doesn’t need to be praised. We need to praise Him. And when we are the most hurt and the most wounded, e need the doctor the most. That is what David was doing.

The way people picture David is either forgetting his humanity – that pat of him that was scared, hungry and confused – or forgetting his spiritual being that cannot be dragged into happiness, just like ours can’t. Hence, David becomes either this forever young, curly-blond, blue eyed baby-faced model who pets baby lambs, or this self-denying ruthless worship leader who is a religious fanatic.

I think David was just like me. I think he felt the way I do; he felt the fear, he felt God’s promises slipping away from him, he experienced doubt and has been wounded. He was just as sinful as I am and he lived in a world just as filled with sins as I do. My heart is not forever blissful and undisturbed; dragging my heart doesn’t work. And it definitely doesn’t work for those who fight with depressions. We need something greater than we are to take us out of the state of sin and death that we are born in. We need Someone grater than our sins. We need Someone greater than the sins of those around us. We need Someone greater than the consequences of our sins and the consequences of the sins of those around us. We need Someone greater than our pain, because the pain of widowhood can be greater than we are.

What works – and what David did – is to tell our hearts where to go. We cannot stop our hearts from hurting or for crying; but we can tell our hearts where to go and cry. We can tell our hearts Who to go to and cry.

If 2018 started with sadness, don’t waste the tears. Chase the days – if not with laughter, with directed cry. Direct your cry to Jesus. He knows what to do with it, even when you don’t know what to do with it. Regardless how great your pain is, Christ is greater.

David is not encouraging his heart to praise. He is not encouraging his heart to be happy for the sake of being happy or thinking positive thoughts. David is encouraging his heart to praise GOD. In other words, he is telling his own heart, just like he would tell someone else: “You are hurt. We’re going to the doctor NOW. ” He is not saying: “Pretend to be happy, even if you are not happy and even if you hate it.” Every single praise out of our mouth is a recognition of the fact that we need Him. It is a kind submission to Him, a willful sacrifice.

Sometimes, praising God does not mean laughter, but tears. Cried praise is just as valuable as laughter praise. When you can’t drag your legs, pull your heart towards Jesus.