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  • Katie Smith

Paid before performing

I find it difficult to accept payment before performance. You must perform before collecting tips, right? You must audition to prove your worth in the ensemble. You build your resume before banking on the big bucks.

On the flip-side, I know I need not "clean myself up" before attending church. Nor can I ever work to earn my salvation. These truths I believe wholeheartedly. Why then is it so difficult for me to feel the truth of a simple verse like 2 Samuel 22:20: "The Lord delights in me," especially if I haven't done anything delightful recently?

Moreover, I find my aim (like much of the world) directed at people-pleasing, so it feels backwards that God would be pleased with me when I haven't first rolled up my sleeves and persevered with hard work.

I do cherish the fact that Jesus "paid it all" and "all to Him I owe," but this matra begins to manifest itself in managing my own received gifts.

I began earning a paycheck at the age of thirteen, and after different jobs, and different degrees, I now work without any pay. My performance is measured through trial and error. The fruits of my labor are not evaluated by a number, but simply by the delightful or disgusting details of any given moment.

Our family recently lived on the road for a couple weeks (due to landlord request), and we had the distinct privilege of visiting a foster-care camp in Valdosta in the middle of our journey around Georgia. I was excited to start serving with our boys, since we had been "receiving" vacation gifts the whole week prior.

To my surprise, the owner of the camp had purchased tickets to a nearby amusement park for the first day of our stay. The boys were thrilled and accepted the gift with no questions asked. I, on the other hand, struggled to embrace the privilege.

Had we worked hard the first day, I think it would have been easier for me to accept the gift. But getting a gift before giving felt wrong. How would they know we'd show up the next day? Why did we deserve another break anyway? I was always taught to pick out a gift to give someone at Christmas before grabbing one with my name on it. Thus, I could have postponed this delightful opportunity in the order I felt more appropriate if it were not for God's whispering reminder in my ear...

Didn't Jesus do the same thing on the cross? When you claim to follow Christ, you are claiming a "free gift" from God, and Christianity, might I add, is the only faith that requires NOTHING of you when receiving the gift of eternal life. You didn't come first. God's goodness and righteousness have always existed. He is always first.Yet humans often refuse so many chances at peace and delight when they decide the "appropriate" order for delight.

Jesus died before I was even near birth, so I have no reason to boast or brag on my own goodness. How then can he delight in me so much? Because I am merely a part of the magnificent herd, and I need a Shepherd. I am His child, and like any child, He knew I'd make mistakes, but He also knew I would one day repent and believe. Such wisdom and power is something beautifully delightful to behold.....

Just in case no one has told you lately, you are delightful too!

We tried some of our own family olympics before hitting the road. While I wished ballet was on the docket, handless-cookie-eating was a close second!

Carefully Careless...

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