Have you ever thought that you knew it all? Or, that at least you had it pretty much figured out? I have. But, sometimes, we get a little slice of humble pie, when we least expect it.
A great man I know had a funny experience with this. He was always a very active guy, an avid runner. He would run every day, for years. After he got a little older, his knees eventually wore out and his doctor told him that his running days were over, and that he would have to try something else, like maybe a bike, or soon he would be signing up for knee replacement surgery.
So, needing to get his exercise in, and taking the doctor’s advice, he went out, bought a bike, and a helmet, and was ready to get after it again. It was all new to him, as he had never done any exercise other than running.
One morning, he got up, just as he had always done, put on his helmet, hopped on his bike, and proceeded to bike along the same route where he had run through all those years before. He finished his trek through town, and at the end, decided to run through the drive through at Mcdonald’s. No big deal, he’d done that before, just to grab a quick something before heading home.
When he got back home, his oldest son was there to visit, and kind of looked at him with a confused look, and said, “Where’ve you been?”. He then explained that he’d just been on his bike ride and ran through the drive through on the way home. His son then said, “You went through the drive through with that helmet on?”
“Because, I think you have it on backwards.”
He had ridden his entire route through town, waved at people, smiled, and gone through the drive through at McDonald’s with his bike helmet on backwards! He had thought that the mesh head support were eyeholes! It was all his son could do to not die laughing. It is now a classic story, that we repeat over and over again!
The helmet was right, just used slightly in the wrong way! The basics were good, just needed a little tweak to be perfect.
Something similar happened to me over this last week. Not about bike helmets or humble pie, but in the way I understood the principle of “Grace”.
I always looked at Grace as God’s part in the pie chart of my personal salvation. I would do a certain percentage of “what I could do” and then the remaining balance of the 100% would be filled in by the Savior. I envisioned that my part was a certain set of accomplishments, or “works” or duties fulfilled. And that if I fell short, I would ultimately have to answer for that shortfall. Because, after all, “It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.” Right?
But I had my helmet on backwards. I was close, but I needed to flip it around to get the right fit.
In Sunday school, We watched part of a talk that perfectly explained grace, and how it is sufficient for everyone (Thanks Gena). As in, everyone everyone. Not just the good guys, or super churchy super spiritual Enoch type people, but everyone. People like me. Grace doesn’t just fill in the gap “after all I can do”, It covered the whole pie. 100%. My works don’t satisfy ANY of the demands of justice, because those demands were already paid for, 2000 years ago.
So, why do I have to do any works at all? Cant I just say, “Sweet! Im saved!” and go about my life as if nothing I did mattered? Plenty of people seem to do just that.
Ultimately it comes down to this- I am here to become the person God wants me to be, not just to do what he wants me to do. Not because I have a checklist that needs to be checked off, but because, through my actions, I am showing appreciation and love, and gratitude for what Jesus Christ did for me. He wants me to be like Him, to follow Him, because that is the only way I can be with Him again. I am willing to change to be more like Him.
It DOES matter what I do, because thats how I pay Him back for what He has already paid for!
My life is not meant to be an accumulation of good acts, or resumé of good things done to earn Heaven, but it is practice to be worthy and comfortable and learn what its like to be in Heaven!
So, instead of asking ourselves the question, “Have I been saved by grace?”, maybe we should instead answer the question that Brad Wilcox asks, “Have you been changed by grace?”
“The final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!” Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.”
“The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there.”
This completely changed the way I see the entire purpose of my life. I am here to learn how to be heavenly and bend my will to His, so I will feel comfortable when I go back home! Home, where we all belong, and where our Older Brother wants us to be.