Monday, November 24, 2008

"Not of yourselves"....thankfully.

How do you start confessing to however many people may be reading this that you committed a sin?
I think I just did it.
So here's my story (no preface let's just jump right in, you're all furiously reading at this point to see what it is I'm sure).
I go to the Gap and buy this pair of jeans (which, might I add, cost $50 BUCKS *insert groan here*) because I was in need of some pants that fit...
I get them home and throw them on to go out for an evening with my husband, all the while thinking that I can't believe I spent that much on jeans. A few days later shopper's remorse gets the best of me (and they'd been sitting on my shelf ever since that night, waiting to either become a committed part of my wardrobe--or go back to the clinically clean shelves of the store I am so begrudgingly obsessed with) and I choose to take the jeans back to the Gap to get a credit to my account.
I heave two children, stroller, diaper bag, purse, returns, and snacks, all in the car and drive twenty minutes to the store. When I get there I hastily shovel myself and my two kids through the door, to be greeted (with little enthusiasm) by a 50ish-year-old woman who looked like she had never had a bad hair day (or worn sweat pants) in her life (we'll call her "Buffy"), and this is my first moment of feeling like a complete putz for being with my two children in the Gap wearing a jacket I got at Goodwill (which I am normally quite proud of).
The conversation that followed went something like this:
Me: I'd like to return these please
Buffy: Okay do you have your receipt?
Me: LINCOLN, where are you? Come out from behind those clothes!
Me again: Sorry, what was that?
Buffy: Do you have your receipt?
Me: Yes I...LINCOLN, stop playing with the mannequin.
Lincoln: Ooooh, a princess (looking up a mannequins skirt)
Me: Here is my receipt
Buffy: Okay, I'm sorry I can't return these jeans, they've been worn...

Now let me preface what happens next by saying that I not only do not know what came over me, but I also in no circumstances condone what I did in this instance.
Me: I'm sorry, but I've never worn these
Buffy: You've never worn these jeans? There is dirt on the hem of the leg.
Me: No, I think that's the wash or something, I only wore them to try them on...
(WHA??? If you were paying attention earlier, you would remember that I did wear them, and at this point I am blatantly lying to Buffy)
Buffy: Okay mam, I'll give you a credit on a gift card.
And THEN there was this pause that seemed to go on forEVER while she figured out how to credit said gift card...and in the midst of this pause I had a mental conversation with God...that went something like this:
God: You just need to tell her you were lying.
Me: No way.
God: Be bold, do the right thing, it doesn't matter if it's just a pair of jeans, you were wrong, stand up and tell her.
Me: Not a chance she'll think I'm totally ridiculous.
God: I've called you to a high standard, and I expect you to live up to it.
Me: Too late! She's handing me the gift card.

And I walked out of the store, heart in the pit of my stomach...feeling like pond scum.
I immediately start praying telling God I am so sorry and I cannot believe I did it. I commit the money I was credited (part of the purchase had been on a gift card and part from my fun money, so I got some money back) to our tithe and charity fund (so as not to reward myself for my sin) and call John to tell him about what a horrible person he married.
The rest of the day was ruined at this point, and I must say I was pretty pathetic wallowing in this pool of guilt I had nicely created for myself when God so graciously reached down and tapped me on the shoulder...reminding me...
"There's a lesson in all this."
And I'm thinking "Right the lesson is, don't spend $50 on jeans cause you'll regret it and definitely don't lie." And then a quiet voice tells me ever so kindly to stop thinking about myself.
And I realize the real lesson.
I need forgiveness...we all do.
Every day, every moment, every time I fade right back into who it's easiest for me to be. And there will never be a day in my life (no matter how long I've been a believer or how good I've gotten at "being good") that I don't need this forgiveness. That IS the whole point isn't it?
I'm not good...I never will be (because no matter what I'm going to mess up) and this amazing astoundingly gracious and loving God sent a mediator for me, a passionate forgiver of my sins, so that I can be seen as forgiven, even though I could never earn it on my own.
I think God gives us those little glimpses (not that I by any means think it's a good idea to sin that grace may abound) to remind us that this whole "salvation" thing is not for the good, well-behaved people, but for the rest of us, who are blissfully aware that we fall short, and recognize an amazing God who abundantly chose to give us a scapegoat, the credit is to Him alone.
The Bible says it again and again, "He saved us, not because of the righteous things we've done, but because of his mercy." Titus 3:5
I don't know how to end this, I'm not even sure that it made any sense. I don't know how to get the point across that I want to make...but I can say this...
I will never be good enough to get my way into heaven...
but because of who God is, he sent a perfect savior (Jesus) to die as punishment on my behalf...
and as a result I have been credited with righteousness.
It doesn't "make sense" it's not "fair" that someone who has sinned, has messed up, gets to gain righteousness by simply believing...but it is true.
And it is on that truth that I rest, on that truth that I live my life, on that truth that I hang my future, my past, my everything.
And I want nothing more than to see others come to know the same freedom that comes from that truth....
because there is nothing that will so dramatically change your life, no "higher knowledge" or "state of existence" that will get you to that place...
that place of forgiveness and grace in the daily life.


Anonymous said...

jenn, you are the beth moore of our time. seriously, when is your book of devotionals coming out already?

Shanole said...

No kidding, I second that!!