If you ever want to know how truly ugly human nature is, fly standby.
Purchasing a standby ticket is a low-risk, high reward practice. Last weekend I purchased a round-trip standby request for $50: a regular ticket would’ve cost upwards of $500. In the grand scheme of travel, $50 is peanuts.
Spending a tenth of a regular priced ticket is lovely. Waiting for a seat is not.
Most of my wait time is spent hoping that:
a. Connecting flights are delayed.
b. Revenue passengers sleep in late, are stuck in traffic, or simply miss their flight.
c. My anxiety doesn’t take over my excitement.
Peanut fare aside, my desire to get to my destination was just as strong as ticketed passengers. And I sneered at every single late arrival dashing for the open gate–right before my name was about to be called for the flight. I waited through three boarding processes until I got my coveted ticket. It’s always like winning the lottery. I cheered down the jetway…all the while someone must’ve missed this overbooked flight.
Ugly–I tell you. My heart delighted in someone else’s misfortune.
For much of my adult life, my faith has been a simple seat request. I used to throw out a prayer every now and then, but continued to do whatever I wanted to do. My faith was inexpensive; I rested solely on the idea of cheap grace (which really isn’t grace at all). I lived as if my faith was never a sure thing, waiting at the gate in hopes that one day, Jesus would call my name and I’d stop making silly choices. My relationship with Jesus was riddled with guilt and anxiety. After all, how could any God forgive what I had done or where I had been? I spent most of my days in hopes that others would mess up more than me, so that I wouldn’t look so bad in front of this sovereign God I’d heard about.
My desire for heaven was no less than any other Christian. And yet, I lived as if I didn’t have a sure thing. I neglected the one desire that Jesus had for us.
During this lenten season, I’ve been reading Max Lucado’s On Calvary’s Hill. I have been wrecked by the reminder that Christ freely walked among us; he lived through all human emotion and escaped unblemished. Beyond that, however, he built real, sustainable relationships that extended a visible hand from heaven.
All too often, Christians believe that
“God is holy…separate from us and unapproachable.”
and we evangalize that
“you cannot see (His) face, because no one can see (Him) and live.”
We forget that Jesus was fully God and fully man. He lived with us to allow us to understand just a fraction of his goodness. Jesus had a mother and a father and a brother and friends. He experienced temptation and jubilation and betrayal and grief.
And, in the greatest single act of love, Jesus died on a cross so we could know him eternally.
“(The cross’) design couldn’t be simpler. One beam horizontal–the other vertical. One reaches out–like God’s love. The other reaches up–as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of his love; the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standards. How could he do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on his Son and punished it there.”
God’s holiness is only half of the story. God is sovereign, and yet, Jesus shows us that God desires intimacy with us.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties until I truly understood what this meant. I had to stop resting on a standby faith. There was absolutely nothing that I could do to get closer to God. There was no missed connection that was going to get me on a flight to heaven. There is no amount of eyelash batting that could get me closer to Jesus.
And there was nothing that I had done that could keep Christ from dying on the cross for me.
I could continue living the way that I was, but my faith would never be as deep as Christ intended it to be.
I know my God is real because when I ran furthest from his love, he drew nearest to my broken life. He rescued me; he transformed my heart; he paid the debts I could never afford to pay.
His death on the cross paid the fare to my destination. Christ never intended for us to have a standby faith. He purchased our ticket in full; it costs us nothing and everything at the same time.
Jesus once told his buddies,
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
God wants to meet us at the intersection of his holiness and his love. He wants for us to draw near to him, not just during the Easter season, but every season.
The moment I gave up my seat request was the exact moment that God called my name. I have taken up my cross and have never looked back.
On Calvary’s Hill
By Max Lucado
Review: Deep and thoughtful Easter devotional. This book is a great reminder for all of us, no matter the age of our faith, that God is good, that he desires a relationship with us, and that he has paid the price for our sins that we couldn’t. An excellent reflection on the epicenter of our faith. Forty devotionals for forty days of Lent.
Purchase on Family Christian now for $9.99