The first thing I have learned in seminary came in an unexpected form. I have not yet memorized the Greek alphabet (although it is my homework assignment for the weekend), but instead, God has reminded me of His free gift to me, His character and of my inability to understand those simple, yet lofty ideas.
Let me explain. While David and I were engaged, he approached me one night with the opportunity to leave my job and pursue seminary full time. Being the nerd that I am, going back to school for the purposes of knowing God more deeply has been a dream for me, a dream that I would not allow myself to dwell on too deeply, in fear that it would remain that, a dream. David went on and on about how it would be a joy for him to be able to do this for me, that he would love to see this dream realized, that he would not consider it a sacrifice to allow me the freedom to pursue this passion like I had never been able to before.
The initial response in my heart: “What’s the catch?” I don’t “need” seminary to do ministry, it will place us in a tighter spot financially, etc. Ultimately, my question was, how does he think the benefits of this will outweigh the potential costs? I reminded myself that his character is gracious, loving and sacrificial: wanting my best and always looking for ways to put me first. I rehearsed what he had said, how it would give him great joy to allow me to walk forward in this, how he wanted to do it for my good and my joy, that is was no sacrifice for him at all.
Fast forward to a few days ago. This week has been my first week in school and I have only had 1 class for 2 hours on Tuesday and Thursday. That has left Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, Thursday afternoon and Friday free. Free time in the middle of the day for a newly ex-corporate person is…different.
I caught myself trying to justify earning David’s free gift by making sure I used my time to run our errands, pick up our house, call the doctors, clean the dishes. I caught myself believing that David had given the gift for his own sake, for me to have more free time to be a better non-corporate wife, for me to run errands so we wouldn’t have to when he gets home. That could not be further from the truth. He had to remind me that he has no expectations of any “return” on the gift, but that instead, his deepest desire is to see me enjoying it.
After the conversation, I immediately saw the parallel between this gift and the gift we have been given in Christ. I am easily deceived regarding the character and motive of the giver. Have I seen Christ as someone waiting on a return from His gift, waiting for me to pay the debt that I owe? Or have I seen Christ as one that is so full of joy and love, that the overflow of His love results in the free gift, and there is nothing to repay. His intention behind giving us this gift is not for it to be repaid or to prove myself worthy by doing great things in His name, but for it to be enjoyed and cherished, thought, sung and talked about. This worship results in what Christ is truly after, not our reluctant obedience or attempts to pay back our debt, but the glory of God in Christ. The fact that the gift of redemption cannot be paid points to the beauty of Christ’s loving motive.
He is gracious, loving, patient and full of joy in the sacrifice He made for us. Do we see the giver rightly?