Thursday, November 3, 2011

Accepting Grace and "Coffee"

A couple of days ago, I needed a latte. Not just wanted one, needed one. Let me take that back, I needed a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now, Hamilton is fresh out of pumpkin spice lattes (like forever).  To "get a latte" means you run down to the Cefco, grab your cup, choose your flavor and go for it. You get about a half cup of water before the latte wakes up and shows its beautiful face. But nonetheless, I knew it would satisfy my craving and be a special treat for that particular morning.

I ran in, grabbed my cup, chose my flavor, and headed to the cashier. She rang me up, and I swiped my card. The machine didn't read the card, so I swiped again, and again, and again. Then I switched sides and swiped again, and again, and again. (This latte was a need.) Then she tried the old plastic sack trick. Nothing. I was freaking out, because I knew I had no cash and had nothing to purchase the latte, which I needed, with.

Just as the last attempt failed, an older gentleman took his place in line behind me. I didn't want to keep him waiting, so I started to tell the clerk, "I'm so sorry I ruined a cup and made a latte, but I've got nothing to purchase it with" and then quickly leave my latte and the store. But just as I started, he said, "Put her coffee on mine." My first thought was "Oh no. He thinks it's a coffee, but it's a latte. That's a difference of at least seventy-five cents! I'm so embarrassed. Why did I HAVE to have the latte?!?" But what I said was, "Oh no, you don't have to do that." Without skipping a beat, he smiled and said, "Well you need that coffee, and you can't pay for it. So, I will. There have been times the machine wouldn't read my card either."

I was shocked, blessed, and getting a spiritual analogy all at the same time. I quickly said, "Thank you so much!"- then ran out the door with my latte so I didn't have to experience the shame of my $1.50 "coffee." The older generation can't seem to fathom paying more than thirty cents for a cup. Or maybe that's just my Daddy. I was so glad he wasn't covering me at Starbucks.

So, I got in my truck and thought about the perfect parallel between he and my Father. I needed restoration from sin, and there was no possible way I could pay it. No matter how many times I tried/swiped, my actions/card weren't enough. God had to pay it, or else it wasn't gonna get paid. I was so blessed by that man buying my coffee, I couldn't get over it. I made sure I took a mental snap shot of his pick-up so I could describe it to Justin, and see if he happened to know him. All this, over a buck fifty coffee. It was a wonderful gesture, but how minuet it was compared to the sacrifice of His Son. I couldn't thank the man enough, but there are days I forget to thank God. Yet, no condemnation, because He already paid for even my selfishness/lack of gratitude. I just want to be better at being thankful and grasping what He gave and paid for. Honestly, it is hard to grasp an eternal reality when you can not see, touch, or experience it immediately, as you can a cup of coffee. But one day, when we do...Oh the joy!

The flip side, is how easily I accepted the coffee, but struggle with accepting His gift of grace. I enjoyed my coffee, and didn't worry for the remainder of the day, "Gosh, how am I going to ever pay for this coffee." I knew it had been paid for and was good with that. I long to accept grace in this way, but my sense of pride encourages me to find something I can do, even if it is just a small payment. But Truth says, I am incapable of even a payment, because the payer must be totally perfect, and I can't help myself one bit on that one! The fact I struggle with the acceptance of grace, gives me hope, that maybe to some degree, I do recognize the magnitude of the sacrifice.

If any of this makes any sense to you at all, I am glad. Look for Him, trying to reveal Himself to you, in everyday experiences. It is His good pleasure to do so, and our unmeasurable gain.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Benefit of Doubt

I did not write this, but found it on a blog a couple days ago. I loved it and sent it on to several of my friends. It is powerfully written and true to the heart. A bit convicting as well- but even conviction is beautiful, right?? It's communication with our Father. At least we know He is still speaking to us in our spirit.

The Benefit of Doubt

If there were ever a group of people who should second guess their impulsive judgments about others it should be Christ followers. We know what forgiveness is. We know we are not enemies. We know all of us have something to learn. We know all of us are flawed. We know the "ideal self" is myth. We know none of us sees things clearly. We know everyone is a critic and everyone has a critic. We know people love to talk about everyone's failures but their own. We know pride is nothing more than an elaborate cover-up for our insecurities. We know evil runs through every single one of us. We know God will finish what He started. And, most of all, we know Christ.

Of course, it's hard to extend the benefit of the doubt when you're licking your wounds. I'd rather operate with the assurance that I know what I saw, I know what I heard, I know what I felt. It's hard to argue with me when I'm talking about myself. But, then, I think of him. And, how he said, "father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing." The ultimate benefit of the doubt.

Maybe next time I'll say to myself, "he didn't mean it, and, even if he did, I don't know." Sure will save me a lot of grief. Rummaging through past hurts and sorting out possible motives only contributes to my delusion of certainty. Instead, I should live with the benefit of doubt.