Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lessons about Grace

There once was a Chief mate (leader of all the deckies - next to the Captain in rank) in Deck and, as every morning, we met as a department for devotions. On this particular morning, he had something special for us. Before we started, he passed around chocolates to everyone. However - as seems to be the case in most departments - there are always a few stragglers who rock up late... and miss the chocolate. But this Chief mate Graeme took the chocolates left and tossed them around to those just coming in. The deckies who actually made it on time started grumbling about how "they deserve to get no chocolate," and "serves them right for being late." And then in the way he always did, most of us not realizing the lessons we were being taught, Graeme quietly said, "Remember, one denarii," and proceeded to relay Jesus' parable about the landowner who hired workers to work for him. Those who worked all day received the pay they had agreed upon - one denarii - but those who he hired late in the day who only worked ONE HOUR received the same pay! I've always sympathized with the first ones hired; I would have been in outrage and probably would have been leading the protest when these workers came to complain about this unfairness:

" 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' "
Matt. 20:12-15

This real-life situation shocked me into thinking - What if I were on the late-worker end of the scale?! - I would sure appreciate Jesus' generosity! The thought that maybe, just maybe, in Jesus' book we are ALL 'late workers,' undeserving of salvation, catapulted me on a journey to find out about Grace.

"The whole world is starved for grace," Philip Yancey writes in his book What's So Amazing About Grace? I've always thought of grace as forgiveness, actually I relate more to what Lewis Smedes said in a quote; it's more than that: "Guilt was not my problem as I felt it. What I felt most was a glob of unworthiness that I could not tie down to any concrete sins I was guilty of. What I needed more than pardon was a sense that God accepted me, owned me, held me, affirmed me, and would never let go of me even if he was not too much impressed with what he had on his hands." (What's So Amazing About Grace, pg. 36)

Grace is getting something you don't deserve.

Grace is not fair. It is not logical and it does not make sense. I like to have a reason. But try as I might, two things I have found, are not logical: Love and Grace. They are intertwined (inseparable and interchangeable) because grace is at the core of unconditional love.

It is hard for me to accept - if to accept, then to give as well - Grace (and thus, Love). It feels like I need to earn whatever it is I want. I'm too proud when someone extends grace to me.

Recently there has been a situation in my life where I want Grace. It is not forgiveness for something I have done; it is something I would like but there is nothing I can do to help myself get it. There is no reason I should get it even. For the first time in my life, I want Grace.

The Bible is full of God trying to get the picture of grace across to us. God bestowing on David - adulterer and murderer - the title of "A man after God's own heart." Seriously??? And then the famous Old Testament prophet Hosea, sent to live out an example of God's grace. When Jesus came to earth he tried and tried to help us get the picture: The parable of the prodigal son, the Pharisee and tax collector praying, the servant who was forgiven a huge debt he could never pay, but wouldn't forgive his fellow servant a small debt, and One Denarii.
"Grace... is a gift that costs everything for the giver, and nothing for the recipient." (pg. 25) In one final amazing act of Grace, Jesus gave the gift of eternal life to a criminal on a cross beside him who had no time left to do anything for him.
This lesson of one denarii is helping me see that I shouldn't be jealous when I see others get better than what I think they deserve, because actually... I am the one hour worker who didn't deserve the pay.
Jesus wants us to just accept his gift humbly with thankfulness and joy and not belittle the gift that cost him everything by trying to earn it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Monday

On the ship our work week is from Tue. - Sat. and Sunday is focused on a lot of ministry, leaving Monday as my day off! So unlike most of the rest of the world, I love Mondays!!!

My family called today (yay!!! :D) and I got to talk to them for near an hour and half!!! My littlest sister, Hope (who was 3 weeks old when I left), is almost 1 and a half! She is walking and babbling and climbing on lots of stuff - they said her favorite thing is Daddy's ipod touch-! And every morning she wants to play with it. They have company, as usual; the kids are really stretching out and off doing lots of things! We talked about support and prayer requests. The doggies are fine and it's getting warm...

This afternoon I went off the ship with Elise for a special treat of ice-cream at the little "Australian"-named place! It's cool because Elise is from Australia, and it was REALLY GOOD ICE-CREAM! Fun time of talking and walking around the town together! :)

There are a bunch of farewell testimonies tonight because a lot of people are leaving soon. I'm going to that and then it's early to bed because I start work at 4:30am tomorrow morning - we're shifting over to the container port to load our 13 (13!) containers of supplies over the next two days. It's going to be a lot of work and I don't know where it's all going to fit on the ship; all I know is it's all hands on deck for gearing up for Africa!

St. Johns, ANTIGUA