Can I pay my own restitution?
Driving home from a long weekend of youth ministry, this evening I had an epiphany. Restitution. I always seem to want to pay restitution and I get frustrated when I cannot. I harm someone with my words or actions and I want to make it right. I accidentally break something that belongs to someone else, so I replace it with something better. I seek forgiveness, but in seeking forgiveness it is so much more about what I am doing to fix the situation then it is about my receiving forgiveness as an unmerited gift. Hmmmm. Do I act a similar way in my relationship with God?
When I get that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach because I can't make something right, is that anxiousness a sign that perhaps I'm not the One to make it right?
What was that question asked in confirmation class tonight, "Whose debt did God redeem?" Well, I suppose it was mine, but then again it was no longer mine when God redeemed it. Yeah, that is right, it somehow became Jesus' debt. Woe!
Can I do that? The next time I sin against my brother or sister in such a way that I am not able to make it up, can I accept that I am forgiven anyways? Can I do that or do I need to keep searching for that opportunity to make things right?
I mentally keep track of my financial debt - the kind that can never be repaid. That new school sound equipment that I dropped and broke during undergrad - someday I'll make a donation to make up for that. Those scholarships that were given to me, someday I'll contribute and refill those funds. That bill that I already paid, but the other person thinks I still owe,... someday I'll pay for that. The person who paid my towing expenses when I was in a difficult place financially. Yeah even them, I'll pay back someday, somehow. NO! That is not what it is about. So, why do I carry about me this sense of debt? Because I have this internal need to pay it back, to make restitution for my wrongs, even if the person has already forgiven me and moved on.
And here is where the epiphany comes. If I really understand God's grace, I won't be afraid that someday those debts are going to come back to bite me. Instead I will pause and realize that my need to make restitution for my wrongs is minimizing what Jesus did for me on the cross! I'm not the Savior, Jesus is! Can I just accept Jesus gift of grace just as it is? An unmerited gift that covers all sins and makes full restitution on my behalf without my doing anything?!?! Deep breathe - breathe it in - it is called grace! It is that beautiful power of God that covers those spaces where I haven't yet let myself off the hook. Why do I keep track if no one else is? Why do I keep track if even God doesn't? GRACE. God's perfect grace. My debt transferred to Jesus debt, which has already been paid in full!
I must admit, this is difficult for me to comprehend. How is it that I am to live in and fully accept this grace? How am I to truly understand that Jesus has already made restitution for the broken relationships and harm done? How am I to truly accept and fully embrace this gift when accepting it means just being and not doing? Jesus covers it all! I don't and won't. GRACE - it belongs to God and He has shared it with me!
Lord help me to live into and accept your grace. You don't keep record of my wrong. Oh Lord, You know who I owe and who I no longer owe. Help me God to understand this and to see my life and my human debts from your perspective. Give me the freedom and joy of grace that allows me to move on. Help me to know what it is okay to forget, erasing it from my mental list. Help me to know that you are the one who makes restitution and I need not be anxious about anything. Amen.