"Well, you sure beat the rush coming this early", complimented the grocery store cashier.
"Oh, well, I kinda had to. My husband and I just found out we're going on a vacation today! Leaving our 4 boys with my in-laws. And those boys eat a lot of food. . .so I thought I start them off well"
"Wow! That's exciting. I'm sure you deserve it."
I looked at this sweet woman, with a name tag labeled "Cookie" (winner of best holiday name). She stands for hours scanning food. Demonstrating kindness to stranger after stranger. I'm sure that's only a small part of her whole story (don't we all have more to our stories?)
And she claims I "deserve" something? Don't we all deserve a little getaway? The gift of no responsibilities and toes in the sand.
Of course, a small part of me wished I could pull off a miracle and say , "You go in my place."
Yes, I work hard but do I "deserve" anything more than the blessings I've been given?
I know my heart and I know what I really deserve. . .it ain't a free trip to Cabo.
And so begins my tangible lesson in "grace". A word we fling around so much the power has been drained a bit.
Here's the deal. A week before Bruce & I boarded a plane (sans kids), we stood in the kitchen and felt the weight of life. Kid stress. Work debacles. You know those times when everything seems unbearable (whatever unbearable is to you at the time in your life).
Then the invitation came.
Would we like to join our friends down in Cabo. Stay at a 5 bedroom home looking over the ocean.
It seemed too good to be true. And impossible to pull off.
First a phone call to Bruce's parents. (In God's perfect plan) they already planned to be in Dallas for that weekend and were willing (and excited) to care for the boys.
Next up the flight . . .which amazingly didn't cost an arm and a leg. . .only miles (and a tax fee, of course).
Then we were off. On a trip I hadn't time to anticipate. A vacation I couldn't have dreamed up on paper.
Above and beyond anything I could have asked for or imagined. Truly.
If someone asked you to write down the details of your perfection vacation, would it include this?
Or a personal chef who prepared sushi from the fish you caught and a yummy breakfast waiting for you each morning?
Or sitting on the front of a gorgeous yacht dreaming with your spouse?
And NOT dreaming about how we could own a house like that some day or our own boat. . .
Dreaming of what ministry we could do together. How we could use our unique talents for His Kingdom purposes. A conversation we never have time to "squeeze" in between child training and table cleaning.
It was all a gift. One I could never fully repay.
My "thank you"s to our friends seemed inadequate. I thought about what I could buy them in exchange for all they did for us. My husband sent them thanks in an email. Our ideas at restitution fell so short of the gift.
And I couldn't stop telling people about the trip when I got home. Not in a "bragging" way. But in a "share in the goodness of the Lord" way. "Can you believe God did this?" way.
More grace lessons. . .
As amazing as that vacation was, do I get as excited about the even more valuable, more meaningful gift I've been given?
Do I deserve to be in God's presence for eternity? nope.
Can I ever repay Jesus for the debt he paid? nope.
Can I enjoy the gift and invite others and share with enthusiasm all I have been given? You betcha.
This Christmas the Greatest Gift took on new meaning.
Now I'm gonna boss myself around. . .
Stop trying to "repay" God with your righteous acts. Stop thinking you aren't good enough for God's unconditional love. Stop limiting the gift to those who "deserve" it.
Unwrap the gift.
Enjoy each day.
Thank Him for even the small pleasures & hardships.
Tell others about the goodness of the Lord.
Because His love is above and beyond anything we could ask for or imagine and it's a free gift. Non-repayable (yes, I made up that word). Undeserved. Never earned. Greatest Gift.
Merry Christmas from the MacFadyens
**For those waiting on the next podcast episode. . .I have some great interviews already recorded that I can't wait to share with you. One with Jeannie Cunnion on parenting the wholehearted child. And one with my parenting encourager, Sally Clarkson, on how to own your life. Have a wonderful Christmas!!**