Zach is a student in my youth ministry and quarterback for his high school. The guy lives for football. Nearly everything he wears or owns has to do with this passion. I’m pretty sure that even his toothbrush is UnderArmor. As a booster for his team, Zach was recently selling discount cards that would offer monetary reprieve from local merchants. The front of the card presented the team’s schedule while the back listed all of the benefits gained by its possessor. It was then I noticed the card’s true value: Taco Bell – 10% off total bill. In the timeless words of the great hymn, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.” Furthermore, this card was not a one-time-use, but rather a year-long advantage. I looked around the room as if it were a drug deal. Is this legal? Within a week I’d be making money off this thing. I may in fact push Taco Bell to the point of wanting to buy the card back. So I slipped Zach a Jackson greenback and solidified the sale with a hand-clasp pulled into a half-hug – very gangster.
Yesterday was my first time testing the reliability of this card’s proposed purchasing power. I was still skeptical. It all seemed too good to be true. With sweaty palms I presented it to the cashier. She smiled… scanned it… sniffled… tapped her fingernails on the register… and… reduced my total bill by 10%! And yes, it was that dramatic. I snatched the card from her hand before she could slip it into her pocket and nearly shrugged the impulse to “go Gollum”, but gave in and called it my precious.
I sometimes experience the same feelings of getting away with something in my Christianity. The entire concept of grace could be understood as a discount card without limit or expiration. I sometimes question its legality, but continually fall on its practicality. And just as with Taco Bell, I’ve wondered if at some point God will revoke His grace because of my overuse. Will I never exhaust His love for me?
This past weekend I took my family to Old Orchard Beach; a summer hot spot for fried dough and Canadian speedos. We walked halfway down the pier, far enough to see the waves crash below. I held my two daughters up to the railing and told them of the God who created our world. They watched with wonder as wave after wave rolled in, ushering the sweet smell of salt and the caressing sounds of the ocean. With all of the beauty around me, I couldn’t look anywhere but in eyes of my princesses. A father’s love can never be fully discovered. Not because it’s guarded, but because it’s ever growing. As vast as the sea itself, and as new as every wave, God’s love for His own is encompassing. Our experience and reception of His grace are mere cupfuls of His ocean.