Thursday, March 19, 2009

free grace...

You know those weeks when you've got twelve million things going at one time that all have deadlines that you have NO idea how you're going to get it all done? And while you're frantically trying to put out these fires, it seems like everything in your life starts falling apart? (housework, neglecting your family, laundry, to-do lists pile up, etc.)

Well, long story short- this has been the busiest week for me (Amy) since moving to Virginia. In addition to my usual weekly commitments, I took on a 30-hour paid handwriting job (to help pay for the pepto-pink remodel!), and offered to serve some others with my time.

All that to say, I received an email from our pastor's wife asking me if I needed any help at all. I'm thinking, "oh my gosh, do I need help?! Of COURSE I need help!" but in reality, what do I start typing? "Oh, that's so sweet of you to offer to help. I think I've got everything under control and..." when Marc stops me and says, "Amy, she's willing to help you. You need the help right now." (and he sure knows because he's been a saint all week with washing dishes, feeding Caroline breakfast before work each morning so I can work, etc...)

But you know that feeling that you get in your gut!? I mean, sure-- I really do need someone to come and clean my basement to get it ready for the wedding shower I offered to host at my house even though I'm going to be at symphony rehearsals all day. But I'm not going to ask my PASTOR'S WIFE to come and clean a TOILET!!!

Nevertheless, at my dear husband's prodding, I told her I needed help. And within the hour, there she was. Stooping down and cleaning the toilet. Vacuuming the floors. Cleaning my basement. And as I sat upstairs working on my handwriting job that I MUST finish up before tomorrow, I felt terrible. I felt like a failure.

And then it hit me. Here was a woman of status (our pastor's wife!) stooping down to do something so menial and embarrassing like cleaning up my basement for free, but how much more did Jesus, the King of all the Universe, stoop down to take on flesh & come down to clean up our filthy, messed-up hearts and redeem his people?! For free.

But quickly, all the typical thoughts started to plague me: what can I do in return for her? I should buy her a gift. I should give her some money. I need to write her a thank-you-card at the least. I OWE HER.

But you know what? How in the world can I accept the grace of Christ JESUS if I can't accept a sister-in-Christ offering to help me clean my basement?! The point of GRACE (just like this basement cleaning) is that it's given to us without ANY strings attached in love. There is no I.O.U.! It was her delight to help me, (as much as I have a hard time accepting that!) and how much more is the Father delighted to give unceasingly to His children.

I believe that to the degree that you are able to ASK FOR help, or RECEIVE help, or GIVE help to others when it inconveniences you shows the amount to which you really understand GRACE.

It's humbling. It doesn't sit right with us. We think we can do it on our own. And when we finally realize we can't, even THEN we find a way to add something we CAN do to make up for it.

But the Gospel humbles us. There's NOTHING we could ever do to appease an infinite, holy God. No check we could write. No gift we can give. No amount of good works. (the Bible says even our good works are like filthy rags!)

But hear and believe the good news of the Gospel: "For it is by GRACE you have been saved- through faith- and this NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast." - Eph. 2:8-9

Hallelujah! Praise God for His glorious grace to us in Christ Jesus. And you know what? That makes me WANT to give my life and my all to Him... not to pay him back, but to thank Him for doing it ALL for me. It makes me want to give away the free grace He gave to me.

"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Eph. 2:10


  1. Amy, Thank you so much for a healthy dose of perspective. I have a friend who offers to come pick up my kids and take them out to plays and dinner. She seems to sense when I might be ready to pull my hair out and just calls. I have always worried because there is no way I could ever repay her for all that she has done for me. You post today helped me realize that isn't hte point. Thank you again!

  2. Amy! This post rings true for me in many, many ways and is just what I needed to hear today. You have such an amazing way of connecting our everyday life trials and tribulations with the GRACE given to us by our Lord Jesus. You really brought it all together for me. Thank you! We love you!

  3. Hey Amy I think about work when I read your post. Nurses are NOT about helping each other most of the time. On night a coworker was drowning and I gave one of her pt's meds and got him ready for bed (the dude had been on the call light at leave 5 times in an hour). I kept asking if I could get him tucked in and she kept saying no I'm ok I'll get to it. I finally just got him ready for bed and gave his meds. Well, you would have thought I had done the greatest deed in the world when it only took me like 10 minutes. The smallest things mean so much to us here in life and we just have to accept the little and big offers of help. We all need help and we can all help each other...we just all have a big speed bump AKA stubborness that keeps us from accepting what we need and offering when we can. Wow, I'm feeling philosophical today! See you Monday!

  4. Amy, I'm reminded of the definition of love: The sacrificial giving of oneself for the benefit of others with no thought of return. That is also through God's wonderful grace.

    Love Ya,

    Nanny & Papa

  5. What a wonderul message. I've received so much at different times in my life when I've really needed it. I, too, never knew how to thank people. Wish I was closer so you could ask me for help guilt-free. I would have sent the cleaning lady right over!!!! Be sure to thank your minister's wife for me as well.

    Love you bunches,

  6. Aw Amy, that was so encouraging to read. I have been feeling so down this week so you reminded of the right perspective to have, Love ya

  7. Amy, One of the better sermons I have heard on the subject. I recall teaching your father the same after he was reluctant to receive $20 from my sister Emily who was dirt poor. I took him aside and ask him why he wanted to deny a blessing from her. He was in seminary at the time.
    Grandpa Barnett

  8. Amen! Amen! Amen, sister!!! Those are the only words that come to mind!!!!