This past week, I discovered my grip on Gods love has become more of an “on my terms and conditions” kind of agreement. I also have this sense of entitlement to it, and it took a small child misbehaving in my class for me to see it.
The weekly project was an exciting, yet very stressful one, because these beads were from Uganda. A parent donated them and I was SO excited, and the kids thought it was the coolest thing to say “These beads are from Africa!” So this week I worked with a few of the 1st graders and taught them more about paper beads, how their made and had them string their beads as I came around and tied their bracelets around their teeny little wrists.
Well, on this specific morning, I had a little girl come in with an attitude. Obviously I can’t go into detail, but when I sent her in the hallway after I heard what she’d said to another little girl, I was so frustrated. And so when I invited her back in to apologize, I genuinely didn’t want her to have a bracelet.
“If she’s going to act like that, she doesn’t deserve a bracelet. That’s just how it is.”
Typical reaction, right?
I just had this hardened heart towards giving her a bracelet. It was something I couldn’t shake.. Because only good kids deserve bracelets, right? Only the ones who know how to act and say sweet things deserve to be rewarded, right? When you’re bad, you don’t get to have what you want. When you’re behavior isn’t to said standards, you don’t deserve to have a fun bracelet. You just don’t get one and you’ll have to get over it. You have to watch everyone else who met those standards run around with their pretty bracelets while you just sit in the hallway and cry. Isn’t that how it works? Because if we’re honest, we treat people like this. I treat people like this. We also treat ourselves like this. We expect our behavior to represent what we deserve, and so what we deserve is based off of our behavior. Therefore, in our minds, what is earned is what we deserve.
So naturally, I should reprimand the bad behavior by depriving her from a bracelet because she doesn’t deserve it. She hasn’t earned it, therefore it’s not a deserved item for a worthy candidate.
It sounds harsh, but let’s be real. We use the term deserve like we know the true meaning of it, when we actually don’t. If we base our entire lives off of what we truly deserve, our lives would be radically and painfully different.
Because the truth is, just like I didn’t see that bracelet as something that little girl didn’t deserve, God saw me and thought the same thing.
God looked down from heaven and saw me, he saw my mess, my crap, my hideous behavior and the awful ways I’ve treated people, the lust, the jealousy, the selfishness, the tantrums, the entitlement.. guys, I could go on and on. But the most beautiful thing about that is, He knew I wasn’t worthy and still gave me His son. He still chose me. He refused to let me slip from His grasp because He couldn’t stand to see me go. He chased me down, and captured me. My heart will forever be His because he gave His love to a girl that could never possibly deserve it.
The darkness and deep sin within this heart he so graciously holds in His hands didn’t stop Him from coming to save me. See, God loves us beyond anything we deserve. We don’t deserve His love, but He freely gives it to us. He provides abundantly more than anything we could ever imagine. He brings us from darkness into light, He cleanses our sin so that we can be clean and blameless. He makes us righteous and Holy sons and daughters. He is the king and creator of the universe, the perfect father, and while we’re so unworthy and undeserving, He picks us up and pours out His love, saving our lives from the depths of hell.
And I was sitting there about to miss out on an opportunity to love like Christ because of my own selfish and belittling point of view.
I was stuck. I was entitled. These were MY beads. If she wanted them, she should’ve made a better decision.
Make sense? Well let’s change the situation.
What if God thought that way? What if He saw our sin, our darkness, our desperate need of a savior and said.. “If they’re going to act like that, they don’t deserve to be saved.” What if our sweet Jesus saw us crying in the hallway, shrugged His shoulders and just walked away.. because that’s what we deserve..
But He doesn’t walk away. He joins us in the hallway and brings us into His home because He loves us.
It’s that crazy kind of love that makes no sense.
God swept me away in that moment of entitlement and instead of inflicting guilt and shame on my soul, He showed me grace upon grace upon grace and imprinted on my heart this sense of urgency to show this little girl the kind of love I’ve only come to know by knowing Him. Because that’s what we do as Christians, we show Gods love by freely loving others against all odds. We’re called to love people crazily and earnestly without holding back because Jesus never holds back.
“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19
I then called that little girl over to my table, and I wrapped that beautiful beaded bracelet around her fragile little wrist and watch her run through the class to show it off.
She was given a bracelet, and wanted everyone to know, to see it and feel it. Just like I was saved by God, I want everyone to know, to see it and feel it.
I was that little girl, and God gave me a bracelet. I pray you choose to give out bracelets too.