Today I turn 50 years old. Pretty cool actually. What I guess most people would think I’d be thinking as my odometer turns over to “50” is, “Man I can’t believe I’m that old.” Actually that’s not what I’m thinking. I’m thinking about an old truck and relentless grace. Let me explain.
Last Saturday my wife, my kids, and my dearest friends threw me a big beach barbecue party at the beach. I was blown away and humbled that 60 people came to feast and celebrate the simple fact that I was born. In addition to my party, while I was welcoming arriving guests, my friends Nick Hart and Jason Jones pulled up in a 1959 GMC truck – the truck I’ve always dreamed of owning someday when I’m really old. As they parked the truck everyone suddenly began to sing “Happy Birthday” and then Jason shouted from the truck, “It’s yours!” My jaw dropped and I said, “That is my truck!?” Sure enough my wife Aleta had been secretly stashing cash for a year and a half and many of my family and friends kicked in to help buy this fantastic truck you see in the photo. On top of it all, a group of friends bought me tickets to see a 49er game this season, the first season in the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Honestly, it’s just too much. The love, the gifts, the generosity all felt like too much.
Then I thought about it, and realized that’s the scandal of every grace – every gift that ultimately originates with God. Grace is always a gift that’s “too much.” It’s never a fair & square deal between what I’ve given in comparison to what I’m receiving. That’s the scandalous beauty of grace, and it leaves you with one of two choices – receive it humbly or refuse it because it’s “just too much.” Now that I’m 50 I realize that when I was younger I looked at myself and thought, “What’s not to love? Anyone who gets to know me at all will find how likeable and loveable I am.” I carried the idea that any love I received wasn’t really “too much” because I was pretty darned likeable, maybe even undeniably likeable on my good days. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve become more and more aware of the sinister edges of my own depravity. I’ve been around myself long enough to watch myself at times sin against God in surprisingly defiant ways, break the hearts of loved ones, dismiss other people’s concerns, betray trust, and think only of myself and my mood over and above the needs of others. In short, the older I’ve become, the more I’ve realized I don’t deserve anything good thing in this life, but that the beauty of every grace is the fact that it’s still given anyway!
At age 50 I’m blown away that God graced me with a great start in life with great parents, brothers that I love, a wife who is the most concrete expression of God’s astounding kindness in this broken world, children who are amazing, dear friends who really are like family, and this new old GMC truck that is a testament to the biggest grace of all – I am a new creation, safe under the identity Jesus has shared with me just because He thought I was worth His sacrifice on a cross. As my favorite song says, Amazing grace who sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. Amen!