We recently went to a church event that had various kiddo activities after an Easter egg hunt. Both boys got in line for the ring toss station. My 5-year-old missed the first toss, but hooked the ring perfectly on the second try. The volunteer operating the station congratulated him and gave him the prize basket so he could pick his favorite color for a top that spins around. My boys love these! He beamed, and my 3-year-old looked excitedly at the prize, grinning from ear-to-ear. He was next in line and stood at the spot he was told to and took his first toss, which was too far to the right. We encouraged him to try again, and this time his toss was too hard and veered left. We suggested a gentler toss with his third and final ring. He obeyed our instructions, only to have the last one not quite reach the goal. But, he had given it his best effort. He stood in front of the woman at the station, eagerly awaiting his prize for trying. But, she didn’t even so much as give him a smile. She simply said ‘NEXT’ and held onto those tops like they were her own personal money. As the realization that he wasn’t being offered a top because he wasn’t good enough to get one, his eager expression turned to a sad downcast look as he quietly walked away without saying a word. It made me feel downright awful.
That night after the kids were in bed, I thought about the morning and how I could have saved my little buddy from feeling like a failure. My husband reminded me that we’d rather have him experience disappointments with simple things like a prize than things that really matter. After all, that’s part of life. And while I know his words are absolutely true, I was still angry. This was supposed to be a fun church event, and it made my 3-year-old feel bad! I wanted to go back and scream at the lady, “At least Jesus doesn’t demand perfection from us but freely gave His gift of grace and salvation!!!”
As those words sunk into my very being, I calmed down and thought about the profoundness of this statement. We really do NOTHING perfectly and can’t earn this gift of grace. For if we could be perfect and free from sin on our own, we wouldn’t need the cross and His gift. But, we can’t. As Romans 3 reminds us, there’s not even one among us who hasn’t sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
I again thought about my struggle of glorifying God with my body. There are times I think I can “earn” it by eating less or working out. But, I can’t be free from the sin without God’s grace. For if I wouldn’t be so caught up in sin, I wouldn’t look like this in the first place. Instead, I must remember that I’m only free from what has ensnared me most of my life by the blood of Jesus on the cross. It is HIS gift that I’m free, not what I am on my own apart from God. As Paul writes: “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” Romans 11:6.
I can choose to walk in the freedom I’m given because I can remind myself daily that I am no longer a slave to the sin. I don’t have to overeat to be content. I can say no, not because of who I am but because of the price that’s been paid. I can walk in freedom not because I earned it but because I have been given the gift of grace. Jesus paid for my sin so I don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore. I can truly do a 180 degree turn and say no more and believe that it’s true because I’m counting on God’s grace rather than my good deeds to save me.
Going back to my story from earlier, it would be like “big brother” Jesus stepping in and taking his turn after my 3-year-old. He would hit the goal with perfection and then give up his prize to my son who didn’t earn it. A gift with no strings attached. Only, the gift is far better than a top that spins and cost far more than the effort of landing the ring toss… it cost His life and yet He was still willing to save a sinner like me.
As I thought of this last night, I wanted to shout like those did so long ago with their palm branches in John 12:13 “HOSANNA! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna means “God saves!” He’s saving me daily. [If you’re not saved and are ready to find out how, please send me a message. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make!]
If you need to lose weight and are caught up in a life that you feel is unworthy, don’t give up hope. If we could save ourselves by our own efforts, we wouldn’t look or feel this way in the first place. Instead, we have to remember that we are saved by God’s grace, His gift, in His timing. He will save us and has already freed us from the power of sin with His death and resurrection. We can count on that freedom even when we’re feeling trapped. We don’t get what we deserve (death from sin), we get what we don’t deserve (freedom, salvation, the victory prize!). The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair…
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for revealing Yourself to us through Your Word. God, most of all, we thank You for Your grace. God, we don’t deserve to look thin and healthy. We’ve created habits of over-indulging and laying around and most days feel trapped into this lifestyle forever. But, Your Word tells us that we aren’t slave to our sin. We are freed by the power of the blood. We are saved! We get the prize even though we couldn’t earn it. Thank You for Your willingness to fulfill the plan for our lives that includes our salvation. Please help us walk in victory, as winners of the prize that we didn’t earn. We acknowledge that we live by Your grace and Your gift alone. If we become healthy and thin, may we glorify You every step of the way. Hosanna! Thank You for saving us! Bless You, oh King of Israel! Thank You! You are worthy of our time, worship and honor. We are most humbled at the thought of all You’ve done for us. Help us live according to Your Word today and forever. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!