“So much for your preachy Thanksgiving post last week about how we should thank God for the important things he does for us,” I said to myself as I sat in church last Sunday morning. We were preparing our hearts for communion, and I could not conjure up a spirit of thanksgiving for God’s gracious gift of salvation to save my soul.
It’s really hard for me to admit this, but after sixty years of celebrating communion every month, it’s sometimes difficult for me to come to the table with a fresh appreciation for what it all means. I think one of our worst characteristics, as human beings, is our tendency to take good things for granted after we’ve had them for a while. It keeps us from loving God as we should, and it steals a lot of the joy we should experience in our relationship with him. But I have no idea how to keep it from happening.
So I sat there, feeling exactly the opposite of what I should be feeling as I remembered the Lord’s death until he comes. Feeling nothing, except an uncomfortable burden of guilt as I realized how hard my heart was, and a tiny sliver of fear that sneaked in after the guilt.
And then the Lord spoke to me.
As I sat there feeling sad and guilty and afraid because of my insensitivity to His love, God said, “It’s okay.” Translated into New Testament language he might have been saying, “Peace, be still,” or “Let not your heart be troubled.”
Then he told me why I should not be troubled. He said, “Whether or not you feel gratitude for my broken body and shed blood has no effect on whether or not you’re forgiven. My broken body and shed blood have thoroughly redeemed you, and that redemption is a finished work. You will always be forgiven, whether you ever thank me or not. I didn’t die for the appreciation. I died for you, because I love you. It’s a given. Nothing will ever change that.”
He wasn’t that wordy. It just takes a lot of inadequate human words for me to convey what I heard. The relief and freedom I felt when he spoke was overwhelming. His words brought peace to my heart, and tears of genuine gratitude to my eyes.
More and more I am realizing that the Christian life is not about what I am supposed to do for him, but what he has already done for me.
And continues to do.
And will continue to do, throughout eternity.
More and more I am learning to relax into the overwhelming generosity of his love.