Not-So-Great Expectations

I messed up this week. I had an error in judgement that had some potentially serious repercussions, not just for me, but for my whole family. When I think about it, it’s hard not to be angry with me for that. I did something wrong and I expected there to be some sort of punishment for it. But I didn’t want there to be. I prayed that God would somehow work in the situation and allow the consequences not to be so difficult as they should have been.

And He did.

And I don’t quite know how to deal with that.

I did something wrong, God. Why are You being so nice to me? I don’t deserve Your grace! I should have to pay for my sins. I should have to make up for my own bad choices.

But You’re not letting me. You’re telling me that You are bigger than that. And that makes me feel bad, because I’m not. When my kids make bad choices, I expect them to make it better. I want them to feel bad for doing things that hurt themselves and others. If you did the crime, you should do the time.

I think I might have made an excellent Pharisee, save the small matter of my gender.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13, NIV)

God,

Grace doesn’t make any sense. Despite what I picked up in Sunday School–whether it was intentionally taught or not–You’re not looking for me to pay You back, as best I can, because You died on the cross for me. It’s not about what I owe You, but what You’ve given me. That is maybe a small distinction, but it’s a completely different viewpoint. I spend so much time worried about me: Am I doing a “good enough” job with my life? Have I managed the talents You left in my care well enough? Do I have a satisfactory attendance record at church?

Your sacrifice means that I don’t have to focus on following the rules, but I make up so many rules for myself to somehow prove I’m a good person and … I don’t need Your grace.

God, help me to see myself in the Your Truth. When I am focused on myself and my behavior and my insecurities–I don’t make good choices and I can’t do what is pleasing to You. Help me to be open to Your love, Your mercy, and Your much-needed grace in my life. And, as I receive You more and more, let me show love, mercy, and grace to everyone else who doesn’t deserve it.

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