Running from grace
One time I tried to baptize a three-year-old. I say “try” because it didn’t feel like my best and most proud moment as a pastor. I remember distinctly the feeling that I was forcing the water on him, like he wasn’t a willing participant, like this wasn’t something that the poor kid wanted to be a part of at all. As he darted to the other side of the sanctuary, I remember wondering, how do I pull this small child back over here to get the water on his head without it looking like I’m dragging him across the stage? This is not what baptism is supposed to be like.
But maybe his instinct to run away from that abrupt splash of cold water was more similar to our reaction to grace than we think. Sometimes I think the hardest part of faith is actually receiving and internalizing God’s love for us. Perhaps we shy away from the greatest gift we have ever been offered. Perhaps we turn a cold shoulder, hesitant to receive because we wonder what we have to give up. What changes will I have to make in my life? What if I am comfortable how I am?
But, in reading 1 Timothy 1:12-17, we have an incredibly powerful account of all Paul gained when he received that love, rather than what he had to give up. I made this list of things he said he received: “strength, appointment to service, mercy, grace poured out in abundance, faith, love, saving, mercy, immense patience, eternal life”. Wow. I come back to this passage when I need a reminder that although trusting God is sometimes scary and will take me to uncharted territory, the gifts we receive are worth so much more.
Have you ever been scared to say yes to God? Why or why not?
What do you feel like you’ve given up and what do you feel like you’ve gained in saying yes to God?
Do you think some people hold the view that you have to give up having fun in order to be a follower of Jesus? Has this been your experience?