A grizzled old fellow pulled up to my fishing shack in a bulky RV. I pushed open my shack window and looked up as I leaned out, “Can I get you a day use parking pass today?” I asked.
He replied with an immediate yes. I told him the price and he gave me his credit card. While I rang up the transaction, we chatted about the size of his RV.
He quickly changed the subject, “Say, you’re kinda cute.” He teased.
I ignored him and began talking about the fishing. I grabbed his receipt and pushed the button to open the gate, which would let him pass through.
“Bye hun,” he waved as he slowly drove by, “we’ll start the beers in an hour.”
I rolled my eyes at him and yelled, “You’re gonna have to wait for me, because I don’t get off work until noon!”
Him and his buddy cackled while they clunked away in their vehicle.
“Can I get you a day use parking pass today?”
I began with the next person in line, but I still buzzing from the previous interaction. Did I really say that out loud? Since when had I become such a flirt?
My mind went to the night before, when I’d almost cussed at my cousin. He’d just grinned, “You’ve worked too long in a blue-collar environment, Abby.”
The image of myself that I had in my head was changing. Perhaps my “good church girl” attitude was fading. Maybe I didn’t seem as sheltered as I used to be.
It is when thoughts like these take over that I must re-affirm to myself what the gospel truly means.
My relationship to God isn’t based on what I do or how I act. It isn’t based on how good I am. It isn’t based on how much of a good girl I present myself as. He isn’t impressed with my act. He doesn’t see me as someone special because I don’t cuss or get drunk. He doesn’t love me more when I only listen to Jesus music. He isn’t impressed with the fact that I don’t have any tattoos. I don’t get bonus points for not using cigarettes or drugs. I’m not ‘closer’ to God because I grew up in the ministry.
My relationship to God is dependent on only one thing: Jesus died for me.
He died for me, and now God sees His righteousness instead of my nastiness. When He sees me, He sees Jesus.
I can’t earn His approval. I can’t lose His approval. I’m just here to accept His precious gift of Jesus.
At times when I think lustful thoughts, or when I accidentally let a cuss word slip loose, I feel so stripped of my ‘goodness’. The nice little Abby in my head is gone. Suddenly I am stuck approaching God without any good works to bring before Him. I can’t bring any righteousness of my own. I can’t remind him that I’m a missionary kid. I can’t remind him that I’ve suffered for His name. I can’t say ‘at least I’m better than so-and-so’.
But, because of Jesus, when I mess up, I can approach God and beg for forgiveness. I can’t bring my good works, but I can bring Jesus. I can’t bring my put-togetherness, but I can cling to His perfection.
I can run into the arms of Jesus and find complete freedom from my own messes. He is more powerful than my sin. He defeated sin’s power when He rose from the dead. I can be free from my past sins. I can be free from my future mistakes. I can be truly alive; because He lives.
The mess ups are reminders that my salvation isn’t based on my act. My salvation is nothing I deserve. It’s nothing I’ve earned. My salvation is a precious gift, because the Father loved me before I loved Him.
When I spend all my time trying to make myself look like a good Christian, I am only going to end frustrated with myself and my sin. Instead I need to cling to Jesus. I need to bask in His death. But, more importantly, I need to bask in the fact that He defeated death. He has more power over my sin. I am totally forgiven. My past sins are gone. I am free.
And perhaps that freedom maybe does include a little bit of flirting with grizzled old fishermen.