C.J. Mahaney and Dave Ramsey oft reply to the social grace, “How are you?” with “Better than I deserve.” I like that. I thought about copying it, but I think it would come off as insincere because I would probably say it hypocritically most of the time. Some may be down on others saying such statements saying they are down on themselves. My response is twofold. 1. Don’t we have plenty to be down about (i.e. sin)? 2. They are not seeking to be down on themselves are much are they are seeking to be up on Christ.
It was a few weeks ago on a Saturday night. Bethany was cooking supper and I was upstairs trying to balance the checking account. Thirteen cents off! Isn’t amazing how such a miniscule figure can cause such disproportional stress? Any other time I would think thirteen cents insignificant. If something is thirteen cents off, big deal. If something cost thirteen cents, no problem. Lose three pennies and a dime, oh well. But thirteen cents when balancing the books is a major stressor. Then Bethany’s phone rang. A grenade was about to go off in my soul sending my emotions in a thousand different directions.
Our adoption case worker called saying that they had two brothers, ages two and five, and wanted to know if we would be interested in adopting them. She then proceeded to tell us their story, a story that would melt your heart, but that is for another time. As she told us about the boys we were instantly in love. During the conversation it clicked, I had misdated the interest we had earned that month. How much was it? Yep, thirteen cents. We took some time for the emotional side to reside and the rational side to process. We called family, consulted our pastor, and prayed to our heavenly Father. Later that evening the sewer backed up in our downstairs half-bath, so while Bethany was calling family, I was calling a plumber.
Monday morning we let our caseworker know we were in. The emotional rollercoaster continued for a couple of weeks, you can catch up on that at Bethany’s blog, here, here, and here. Finally, yesterday we found out that it is final, the boys are ours. We will go get them next week. Our heavenly Father has blessed us with two beautiful boys (stay tuned for pics).
We don’t deserve these two boys, they are a blessing. The Christian faith is not about desert, it is about grace. Again, I don’t deserve these two boys. I don’t deserve stress over thirteen cents or a backed up sewer either. I deserve worse. I deserve hell. I deserve wrath. I deserve judgment.
The reason I thankfully don’t get what I deserve is because God gave me something infinitely more valuable that these two sons. He gave me His Son. The Son who took my just deserts so that I might be justified.
So when we say “we don’t deserve this,” it’s not simply because we are down on self, but because we are rejoicing in the bountiful mercy of God to us in Jesus Christ. It’s not because we are negative, or pessimistic, labels I have issues with anyway, but because we are full of joy and overwhelmed by grace. There is greater joy contemplating my Lord’s merits than in deluding myself into thinking I have any of my own.
So pray for these two sinners raising two younger sinners. Pray that the grace of God would be mighty upon us, not because we deserve it, but for His glory.