Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Imagining No Desserts

April 12, 2012
10:45 PM


The kids were listening to an episode of Adventures in Odyssey as they went to sleep tonight. In the bumper, the emcee said, “God gives grace and mercy to his children, even when they don’t deserve it.”  I don’t know if that’s a helpful thing to talk about—the part about being deserving. I don’t think God thinks about who deserves what at all.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t actually. I imagine this scene going on in heaven. There’s St. Peter. He’s like God’s administrative assistant. And St. Peter keeps parading these prayer requests into the throne room of the Almighty. And he says, “Here’s someone praying for healing, but they don’t deserve it.”  And then he says, “This guy is asking for forgiveness for having a prostitute, but he doesn’t deserve it.”  And, “This lady wants forgiveness for being a prostitute, but she doesn’t deserve it.” And then another time he says, “This couple is asking for you to make a way for their kids to attend a private Christian school, but they don’t deserve it. And this woman is praying that her child doesn’t starve to death in the famine, but she doesn’t deserve it. And this boy is praying for his mom to come to church with him, but he doesn’t deserve it.”  And somewhere in all that, God interrupts St. Peter and says, “Ok Peter, let me ask you something. Does anybody deserve to have their prayer answered?” And Peter says no. But then he has a second thought and says, “Well, yes, there is one person who does.”  And God asks him who that is. “It’s Jesus,” says Peter. “Ok,” says God. “So, I understand that Jesus deserves everything he wants, but he and I are one, and we don’t run our prayers through you. So is there anyone in your list that is gonna deserve anything from me?”  Peter says no.  Then God says, “Right. So, I just want you to drop the whole topic of desserts. Nobody deserves anything anyways, and besides that I’m not even thinking about that as a category until you bring it up. So just stop bringing it up.”  So Peter goes back to what he’s doing. “Ok Father here’s a guy who’s beating his chest saying ‘have mercy on me a sinner’, but he doesn’t…I mean…how do you want to handle this?”  And God says, “Give it to him.  I love that guy.”  And Peter starts to say “BUT HE DOESN’T DESERVE IT!” but then he catches himself and bites his tongue.  But it’s still bugging Peter. He says, “But isn’t this an important category? Isn’t the whole justice thing important? Isn’t it important to evaluate who deserves what?” And so God says, “I have already evaluated everyone. When you keep evaluating people, you keep hoping for someone who actually does deserve to have their prayer answered—it’s like you are still hoping for another Jesus.” And then Peter gulps real hard, and he asks God for help in his unbelief.  And then he asks God, “So you never want me to use the word deserve when I talk about a prayer request ever again?”  And God says, “No, I never want you to use that word ever again for anything.  Just stop saying it, please.” (In my imagination, God is polite like that, saying please and all.)  So maybe Peter could pass this on to the Adventures in Odyssey people, so they would stop saying it, too.  It’s not that “God gives grace and mercy to his children, whether they deserve it or not.” It’s just that “God gives grace and mercy to His children.  That’s how He is.”

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