One day as I was watching over a group of kids, I saw a situation begin to unfold. One little boy brought in a plush toy. He proudly walked in with his toy and it quickly became THE thing that most kids in the room had to play with. They needed that toy. Quickly, the boy began telling them, “…You can have this toy, but it will cost 1000000000+…” (some huge, infinite number). Probably not realizing this would be impossible, the kids all got to work. They pulled out their crayons and blank pieces of paper and started making “credit cards” to buy this toy with. Over and over, paper after paper they handed the boy their maxed out make-believe credit cards, and over and over, the boy would say it wasn’t enough. This was very frustrating for the other kids. One girl exclaimed, “We’ll never be able to make enough credit cards!” As I watched this happen, kids working tirelessly writing 1’s and 0’s, and then sighing in frustration when yet again, it wasn’t enough to buy the toy… I saw something else. Now, that’s actually where that story ends. The kids were never able to buy the toy. But I want you to imagine for a second, what if the boy had decided that instead of charging an impossible amount, he would make the payment for the toy, free of charge? I can only imagine the excitement on the kids faces. The joy that comes when something that costs so much that it would be impossible to have enough credit cards in the world, was now yours, completely free.
Many times, I’ve been like those kids sitting at their work stations, tirelessly working to be able to buy something very valuable.
Many times, I’ve been like those kids sitting at their work stations, tirelessly working to be able to buy something very valuable. But for me, it wasn’t a toy, it was God’s forgiveness and grace. Growing up, my relationship with God was exhausting. I always felt like I could never do enough; that when I messed up and asked God’s forgiveness, there was always more that I needed to do to actually be forgiven. I had to do more to be rid of my guilt and shame. So it was like riding a rollercoaster, I would come to the highest points when I had been good. Maybe if I had done a good thing, or done something right, I felt justified before God. But then I would ride the coaster right down into the low dips. This was when I did something wrong. This was when I messed up. Condemnation was the norm. And there was my relationship with God. It was all about me, and what I could do. My relationship with God was based on how many paper credit cards I could churn out.
But that’s not where we’re intended to live, always wondering if we’ve been forgiven and covered. The truth is that Jesus died. Is this thing on? HE DIED, for me, for you. He paid the price none of us could pay so that we could have eternal life with Him, so that we could be justified, covered, forgiven. This is a GIFT! Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Have you ever had a birthday where, before coming to your party, you stopped by the ATM to withdraw all the money you would need to pay for all the gifts that would be given to you? NO! That’s silly. Gifts are free and freely given, the person who is giving you the gift already paid the price required to attain that gift (hopefully). So what do you do when you actually are that person who can’t accept a gift without trying to pay the giver back? I mean, hey, that’s me, and the answer doesn’t come from something I did, but it’s a story of how God in his loving kindness was not content with the fact that His daughter didn’t know how to take a gift.
It’s a story of how God in his loving kindness was not content with the fact that His daughter didn’t know how to take a gift.
This part of my story was a couple years back. Me and my husband felt led to come do a Discipleship Training School at YWAM Louisville. We’re from Washington state, so before our school started we packed up, hopped in the car, and began our voyage to Louisville. I had no idea how this experience was about to change my life and view of God forever. Every week of the lecture phase presents a new topic with a new speaker. One week we would learn about pride/humility, and the next about God’s Father heart, yet each day I heard something about God’s grace.
Soon, our school had gone to a conference where many YWAM bases had come to learn and worship together. During this time, one of my friends prayed for me. When she finished she said, “I see you dancing in a field, free.” I thought this was a nice image, but didn’t really understand what it meant. The next day we were in worship at the conference when the worship leader phased out of playing music and told us to go find someone to pray for and ask God what’s on His heart for them. A girl I didn’t know came to pray for me, and she said, “I see you dancing in a field, light on your feet.” Somewhat shocked, I told her , “I’ve heard that before.”I still didn’t know what it meant. A few weeks later I was in worship again when I felt a hand on my back. It was another friend. She prayed for me and said, “It’s time to dance, this is a new level of freedom.” And in that moment, it clicked. I am that girl dancing in a field, free, when I am living in God’s grace.
Now that I have accepted this gift, there has been a weight lifted off my shoulders.
My sins, that I could never pay a high enough price for, were covered by the One who paid it all. For me and for you. My relationship with God was no longer an exhausting task, it was a joyful gift! It was freedom. And guess what, this gift is for you, too. I know some of you out there are in that place. You know what God did for you, but you still have trouble accepting that He really did it for you. You think that you’re too far gone, that what you’ve done can’t be forgiven. There will never be enough you can do. There will never be enough paper credit cards you can write. There won’t be. It will only lead you to condemnation because you can’t do it on your own. Don’t stay there. There is a gift Jesus is handing you, it’s the free gift of grace. And no, it’s not too good to be true. There is a reason they call it amazing.
Marissa is full of joy and never ceases to share it and she has a heart for people to know the love of Christ. Marissa and her husband, Jose, are full-time staff members at YWAM Louisville.