A week or so ago a Christian author I love posted on Twitter. The topic of her tweet overlapped with my book, so I left commented with a photo of my book cover.
It’s my first book, you see, and I know that marketing it is important, even though I have basically no idea how to sell anything and whenever I try I essentially end up flailing awkwardly on social media like Steve Carrell’s character in Anchorman.
“LOUD NOISES,” he yells. “LOUD NOISES.”
I figured that witty, brilliant author would ignore me, if not delete me. Instead, she retweeted me.
Grace is shocking.
Despite my decades-long Christian faith, it still surprises me almost every time. God continually showers us with unearned, undeserved, unmerited love. It’s scandalous and astonishing. It’s divine.
In Leif Enger’s lovely new novel Virgil Wander (which you should read because it is so ridiculously good), the title character suffers a serious concussion and, as a result, his memory is a bit wobbly. Virgil is surprised when Jerry, an unemployed and unreliable sort of man, shows up at his house with an odd request.
“I loaned you a socket wrench set,” Jerry says. Even though Virgil has a concussion, he knows he didn’t borrow any tools. For one thing, he already owns several sets of wrenches. For another, Jerry isn’t a person he’d go to for tools if he needed them.
Yet Virgil sees something behind Jerry’s eyes. A sadness, a searching, a yearning. He needs tools to try to start working again, and without work he can’t afford new tools. Virgil makes a split-second decision.
“I remember now. These are yours.”
Grace transforms us from the inside out. We expect to be deleted and instead we are retweeted. We expected to be sent away with an empty toolbox, yet we are given one overflowing with high-quality instruments we could never afford.
This is the generosity of the God who meets us in Christ. While we were yet sinners, still sinners, deliberate, willful, wayward, consciously-sinning sinners, God says–here’s grace. Here’s my son, taking your sin upon himself. Upon myself. Taking it all away, not because you’ve been good enough or smart enough or sorry enough or finally gotten your act together, but because I love you too much to do anything else.”
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person,” writes Paul in his letter to the Romans, “though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8, NIV).
This love makes me want to be the kind of person who fills up the toolboxes of others out of pure gratitude, whether they deserve it or not. Perhaps especially when they don’t.
What a God. What a grace.
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