At the restaurant they have half price sushi on Thursday nights and free sushi on Fridays. You have to order drinks, but the area has other bars that are usually packed on Thursdays and Fridays and for some reason that one stays fairly empty. The nice guy who gives out the sushi said that business has started to pick up on Thursday nights, but for some reason Fridays are still empty. We were talking about that last night, why it would be that people don’t seem to want the free sushi he hands out and they might go for half price, but when it’s free at the restaurant they don’t want it either. We’ve talked about it a few times because we’re always surprised. It’s really good sushi and they bring it out in a beautiful presentation. He’s standing there in a chef’s uniform wearing gloves, and everything comes right from the restaurant a block away so it stays fresh and cold. It’s like having it delivered to your own personal outdoor table, and one that you don’t have to buy a drink or pay any kind of tip for. It kind of makes sense in a way that people might be suspicious of free sushi on the street, but why would they go to the restaurant for half price and not for free? It just doesn’t make sense to us, and since it’s something of shared curiosity, we talk about it as I eat lots of delicious sushi and enjoy the beautiful day.When I asked the Lord what I should write about this time, He brought that to mind, and compared it to the way that people often don’t trust or accept the idea of His free gift of salvation. It just doesn’t make sense to anyone who has enjoyed it why it is that anyone would say no, but that’s very often the reaction of many people when they hear about Jesus. I know I was that way for years – people tried to tell me in so many ways and every time I’d think to myself what weirdos they were and that I couldn’t believe they believed in that nonsense. I remember friends of mine who had been friends before they were saved talking to me about this wonderful relationship with Jesus they had, and me thinking, oh brother, now I have to stop talking to this one too. I was very kind to them, or so I thought, in a very condescending way, letting them know that I just wasn’t interested but if they wanted to talk to me again one day when they had come to their senses I’d always be their friend. And then there was my college roommate who I completely rejected who used to pray over me as I slept late from being out all night – I’ve written about her before and how 20 years later I called her up and apologized, telling her that she had been right and that I had been very very wrong. And these people, God bless them, were still ready to be my friends, when I finally came to my senses and understood what I’d been missing all along.
God’s gift to us is a free gift. The gift of His mercy and His love, the gift of Jesus going to the cross for our sins – we didn’t pay any price for that gift and He doesn’t ask us to, all He asks us to do is to accept it and run with it. And when we accept that free gift we gain our freedom, something that no other gift I know of can do. We gain a new life, one that is full of mercy and grace and love, and we lose those things that were harmful to us from the life that we lived before. We lose our past mistakes and our unhappiness and grief, our jealousy, anger, rage, unforgiveness, low self-esteem, shame and guilt. We lose addictions and bad habits and destructive behavior and thinking. Those things will try to creep back into our lives, but the power of the blood that Jesus shed on the cross is much more powerful, and when we receive the gift of His sacrifice, we receive the power of the Holy Spirit who comes to help us move forward and not go back.Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” And we are not alone in shedding that sin from our lives, the Holy Spirit is our helper, our guide, our comforter and our teacher, and the Holy Spirit comes to us as a gift from God when we accept the gift of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Jesus Himself says in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The gift of the Holy Spirit brings power into our lives. A power that is greater than anything else, including our own fear and guilt and sins of the past that would try to hold us back.
One thing that I’ve gotten to know as I think about my own past and the way I finally accepted the gift that God had been trying to give me for so many years is that for each of us there is a time and place of Divine Appointment. Each one of us has our own personal moment of salvation. Once that has happened, there’s no turning back, even when we ourselves may think that we want to because the going got a bit rougher than we were expecting it to be. And until that happens, we can be offered as many free trays of sushi as a nice guy wants to give us, but we’ll still be wondering what’s the catch and keep on walking by. But when we finally have that moment when we say yes, we wonder ever after why it took us so long to accept a gift that is so wonderfully good.Blessings,