A guest post by Jessica Thompson
During this time of reflection on the last year, trying to figure out what to be thankful for each day of November, and also trying to be properly respectful of the true meaning of Christmas—my sense of failure, and alternately pride, grows in fertile soil. I fight with thoughts of “I really should be more grateful” and “I failed at my last 20 New Year's resolutions” and “why doesn’t the incarnation make me fall to my knees?” mixed in with “why can’t people see Christmas is all about Jesus” and “look at those people pushing and shoving to get the Black Friday deals with greed spilling from their heart.” I can get pretty wrapped up in the me of everything.
One of my favorite tweets of 2012 came on New Year's Day from my pastor. It read, “Feel like a jerk? Take heart, you're a lot worse than you think. Good thing Jesus paid the whole bill. Happy New Year."
That has stuck with me throughout the year, and I pray it sticks with me for the finish of it. I tend to think that if I’m grateful enough or if I don’t forget that Jesus is the reason for the season then maybe I’m actually doing okay and I’m somehow more pleasing to God. I forget the truth that the Bible gives me–that I was dead in my sin and a lot worse than I really even want to admit. Yet I also forget that my sins of ungratefulness, my sin of indifference to the incarnation, and all of my failures for this last year have been forgiven. I don’t have to make up for them, they have been cancelled, nailed to the cross. The truth is, I can never be good enough, grateful enough, or awed enough. There was only One who lived that way. He was perfect as his Heavenly Father was perfect, and that is now my clothing. My mind and heart come alive at this thought. The glorious light of undeserved right relationship with God chases the darkness of my self-condemnation and pride and gives me true gratefulness.
As you make your lists, and do your 30 days of thanks, and go through advent calendars, remember this: You were dead, you are now alive. He has forgiven all sins. He has cancelled all the debts. He has clothed you in his righteousness so that you don’t have to work up your own. There is goodness and mercy that are promised to follow you for the rest of this year, all of next year, and every day for the rest of your life. His faithfulness will never fail because he cannot deny himself. You have all the hope and grace you need to finish 2012 and to start the 2013. Jesus paid the whole bill and left the tip. There is nothing now for you to do except believe this good news, smile, and rest.
“Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.” – Augustine of Hippo
Jessica Thompson, co-author of Give Them Grace, is a member of an Acts 29 church in California and has been homeschooling for the past two years. She is married and has three children.