So yesterday I wrote about Xena.  She is lovely, inspiring and loved by her creator.  But me? I am a skeptic.  So when we asked her if she wanted to come to church with us and she responded that she did, in my heart I thought that she would bail.

We had told her that church started at 5 and we would pick her up at 4:30.  I was surprised to see her number calling Brit’s phone at 4:10.  I was even more surprised that she was not calling to cancel but to make sure we were coming to get her.  When we got to the house to pick her up she came out with a smile on her face and a bible in her hand.  She seemed genuinely excited to be going with us.

Truth time – I secretly wondered where she got her bible.  I wondered if it was given to her the last time she was in rehab and if she had ever read it and if it was just for us that she broke it out.  Is she putting on a show?  Am I being manipulated?

Anyways, she went with us and enjoyed every bit of it.  She sang loudly the songs on the screen, laughed at the pastor’s jokes, and held our hands while praying.  I believe she was happy to be back in a place of worship for her father.

On the way home from church we asked her if she needed anything.  She said she could use a gallon of milk.  So we stopped at Kroger and took her grocery shopping.  I was happy to be giving, but something crept up in me that I did not expect.  As we walked around the store filling up the cart (or “buggie” in TN), I started to become selfish.  I started to add up the cost as she placed things in the cart.  I wanted her to stop picking things up.  Why?  I had the money.  Everything I have belongs to God and he clearly was leading this.  So why did I start to feel this way now?

How in this place can the good of the kingdom (giving) walk side by side with sin (selfishness)?  How can Heaven and Hell coexist?  I am not going to break out Dallas Willard on you, but I realized in that moment that grace is the key.  She had received grace but so did I – I needed grace for my sin as much as she did.

So what might have seemed like a vertical relationship where I was “reaching down” to her, was not.  In fact, there is not such thing.  Her and I are on the same horizontal line.  We both need grace.  My weakness requires grace in order to be made holy.  There is nothing I can do, nothing I can give that makes me any less selfish.  But in grace, I can give and in that giving get swept up in this movement of God’s kingdom.

So in giving I give grace the opportunity to reign over my life, but not just mine, the receiver also.  I am beginning to understand that there is something so much bigger about generosity than just meeting needs.  This verse is becoming a little less confusing:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” -1 Cor. 15:10