This time last year, I was beginning to accept the reality that my former roommate and I had likely made a big mistake in signing our apartment contract. The apartment itself was lovely, but the management was terrible.
Case in point: We were told that our utilities were paid for by the company. So I, wanting to take full advantage of that blessing, lived in a tropical climate for the month of January. If I was cold, I’d turn the thermostat up to 80. If I wanted, I took long, hot showers. It was great.
And then the utility bill came.
While I don’t remember the exact amount, I can tell you it was astronomical. Apparently, my island milieu had come at a significant cost. So, I begrudgingly paid the bill, lowered the thermostat, and spent the rest of the winter wrapped in my electric blanket.
I was telling a friend about that situation earlier this week–reminiscing on the blissful 30 days of an 80 degree apartment in January. That month was so great because (I thought) the cost was taken care of. That allowed me to live in complete freedom. Which I did.
And friends, isn’t that what grace is like?
Isn’t it like an 80 degree winter day for our souls? This grace, given so freely, says that we don’t have to work for our salvation; as children of God, we don’t have to jump through hoops just to talk to our heavenly Father. We can rest in the assurance that we are His and the debt is paid.
But we don’t usually do that. Instead, we live like February 2018 Hannah who tried to compensate for a luxurious January by using cold water and setting the thermostat to 62. We try to manage.
It’s something I’m particularly struck by this week as I approach my twenty-fourth birthday and the internal and external pressure that comes with officially entering the mid-twenties. God has been faithful to grow and guide me thus far–and many of you who know my story know that’s a vast understatement. Yet, my mind is gravitating to all the works that I haven’t accomplished, all the ways I still fall short.
I am irritable when intruded upon and I lash out when I’m abandoned. I get clingy when I care and I look for faults when I feel insecure. On top of that, I’m not nearly as godly, selfless, beautiful, mentally-stable, outgoing, or worthy as I’d like to be by this point in life.
Do you resonate with that?
Are you, even now, trying to propel yourself into the arms of God by fixing all the things you’ve screwed up or reaching all the standards you haven’t reached?
You don’t have to live that way. Romans 3 says we are justified by the grace of Jesus Christ (v. 24). And in that grace, we are called to be “living sacrifices,” not prisoners who live in chains to works. That means we live for Christ; and when we fall short, we grab grace, jump back up, and get back in the fight. We live as if our future sins have already been paid for, because they have. And that brings freedom from fear.
Maybe you’ve heard this before. I certainly have; and I’ve even written about it. But the value of grace bears repeating because, 1) our hearts are so apt to forget and, 2) proclaiming the good news of grace is how the lost are saved!
So yes, if you live in the Midwest, you’ll likely have to make some value decisions this winter–cost vs. comfort. That’s not how it is with Jesus, though. You’re accepted as you are, and the deeper you soak in that warm raw of truth, the more radically you’ll be transformed by its maker.