Monday, March 20, 2017

The Gospel According to a Minivan

Saturday night we were the recipients of extravagant generosity. I've cried three times since just thinking about how good the Lord is to us, and how blessed we are to have the co-workers and friends that we do.
We were given a new minivan. A MINIVAN. Not just a run-of-the-mill breadbox-shaped soccer mom van, either. It was a dream vehicle. We call it the spaceship. Bells and whistles and everything in between. It was a vehicle we knew would take years of saving to afford. Years of being in debt to obtain. It was simply: out of reach. And I was ok with that. I'm a practical person and would have continued to press on with our oldschool 1999 Dodge minivan with the hand-crank windows and the dashboard that went kaput 3 months ago.  With a short-list of mechanical problems (not to mention 160K miles), we knew it was less than reliable, but it was running and functional and we'd make due.

But this generous gift through my husband's company came purely out of appreciation and care for our family. It was extremely thoughtful and personalized to our needs. They found a way to pick out EXACTLY what we wanted (albeit something we never thought we'd have). And they handed us the keys without any expectations. They joyfully gave with smiles on their faces, and the love of Jesus bursting at the seams.

I've never received such a gift to this extent before (though we have received blessings of generosity from many over the years, which we are grateful for). But this to me seems like a beautiful picture of the Gospel. A picture of our Heavenly Father and how He cares for His children without exclusions or caveats or restrictions.

When God sent His only Son to the World for our redemption, it was a gift we could not give ourselves, that could not be bought or obtained even through great effort and hard work. Salvation was given to us FREELY.

And what should our response to this be?

Well, when given this van, my responses were all over the place. Speechlessness. Shock. Disbelief. Overwhelming gratitude. Some unexpected feelings, too. Suspicion, "Why me? What's the catch? What do I have to do to repay you? What do you want from me?" And even guilt, "This is too much and too good for me. I don't deserve this. Good things like this don't happen to people like me."

All of a sudden, I see the parallel between the Gospel and a minivan.

Just as we were given something freely that we couldn't earn on our own. So it was with God, generously and graciously offering us the gift of Eternal Life--something we could not achieve on our own merit.

And our response? Shouldn't our gratitude be even more so than how you would respond to receiving a minivan? Or if Uncle Joe left you a million dollar trust fund? Or if someone paid off a school or hospital bill anonymously? Or even if a friend brought you a meal and watched your kids just because they love you?

Shouldn't we cry and shout and be moved to speechlessness and our hearts be overflowing with thankfulness for his GREAT GENEROSITY through Christ and the cross? Shouldn't this eternal gift CHANGE us and motivate us and move us towards repentance and gratitude?

This minivan is a tangible reminder for me to be in awe of God's grace towards us. To appreciate and be grateful for his goodness and kindness, no matter what life brings... even when we don't get the minivan. Even when prayers aren't answered when or how we expect. Even when life is tight and tough and hard and sorrowful. I'm renewed in trusting that His timing is good and perfect and we are not forgotten. We are loved. And His gift of Salvation has already proven that.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." --Ephesians 3:20-21

And now our response is: Let us use this gift to further glorify Him. It will serve our family needs for many years... and we are thankful.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

--Helen H. Lemmel, 1922