Yesterday on my way to Wilmore, I participated in my weekly ritual of stopping along the way for a driving break and to grab some lunch. Little did I know that I would learn something about being a disciple of Jesus.
Upon my entry into the restaurant I noticed a man sitting near the door with a look of need upon his face. At the moment we made eye contact, I knew the question he was going to ask almost before he was to ask it, "do you have any money?" he said " My car ran out of gas and I need to get back on the road". My immediate reply to him was that I do not give out money, but if he was hungry I could get him something to eat. The man seemed thankful that I was offering to buy him lunch. The events that had transpired up to this point were a repeat of events I have experienced several times, but what was to happen next taught me a lesson about what it means to be a follower of Christ.
When we approached the counter, I informed the cashier that the man ahead of me was going to be on my bill. She responded by taking my order and then proceeded to receive my payment. When the man sat back down to wait for his order, the cashier found it important to inform me that "he does this all the time". Wait! "He does this all the time?" I thought to myself. At first, I admit I felt taken advantage of and a bit naive. My response to the cashier was simply "well, that's just how it goes!" Yep, that's the response of this follower of Christ..., "that's just how it goes". Sure, I could have responded a bit more pastoral, inserting the gospel in there somewhere, but even then I fell short. But, I think the basic message was communicated to the cashier.
The truth is... we sin, we feel guilty, we repent, God forgives. Repeat.
After my well-thought out response to the cashier (hint of sarcasm noted), I thought to myself, "how many times have I sought forgiveness from God, many times, in one day?" and "how often has God responded by saying 'you do this all the time'?" Not once! Never has God questioned my coming to Him to seek forgiveness and healing. Not once has God turned me away just because I have continued to fail (miserably many times at that!). Not once has God held his grace from me when I sought to be reconciled to him!
The difference between the cashier at the counter and God is that God never questions our coming to him, or stops forgiving our sins, no matter how often we come to the counter. A lesson in following Jesus? I think so.