“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
In his book, PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace, Timothy Paul Jones shares a story about taking his adopted daughter to Disney World for the first time. This little girl joined his family at 8 years old, after another family dissolved her previous adoption. For reasons unknown, that first family would take their biological kids to Disney World, but leave their adopted daughter behind with family friends. By the time she was adopted into the Jones family, she had heard all about the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” but had never experienced it herself.
When her new parents shared their plans to take a family trip to Disney World, a peculiar thing happened. For months leading up to the vacation, Jones’ wrote that his daughter started acting out in a variety of ways. Her behavior was rebellious and even cruel. One evening when he was about to correct her she looked at him and asked, “You aren’t going to take me to Disney World, are you?”
You see, this little girl had learned many years before that she could not earn her way there. She had tried to be good, and when her previous family left her home, she reasoned it was because she wasn’t good enough. So this time she was living in a way that distanced her far from the Magic Kingdom. Her dad reassured her that she was part of the family, so she was going on the trip no matter what.
Jones shared a beautiful moment that happened the night after the family’s first day in the Theme Park. Back at the hotel as he tucked his daughter in bed he asked her how her first day at Disney World was. She thought for a moment and then said, “Daddy, I finally got to go to Disney World. But it wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I am yours.”
This is the message of God’s amazing grace. This is the Gospel. God’s grace isn’t something we can ever earn. God’s grace pursues us when we are His enemy. When we rebel with dark, untrusting hearts…testing limits and pushing against God’s love, still He calls us. Still He loves us…not because we are good, but because we are His.
Dear Lord, thank you that I don't have to be "good enough" to earn your love and grace. Help me to live in the freedom that comes with that truth, and to rest in the fact that you were perfectly good so I don't have to be. In Jesus' name, amen.