As any traveller knows, hotel staff can make or break your stay.
Especially the staff at the front desk, because they set the tone immediately. Within minutes, you get the sense of whether your hotel stay will be a happy or problematic one.
Case in point: when I was very young, my family spent some time travelling in Europe.
We stayed in a beautiful country where the people happened to be sticklers for rules and regulations. While we enjoyed our time in this nation, dealing with officials who insisted on strict adherence to protocols and procedures, even for tourists, became a bit tiresome.
Then we landed up in the south of France.
We arrived at a hotel late at night, exhausted, and trudged up to the front desk. My father introduced himself and mentioned to the clerk what country we’d just arrived from. He then began fishing out the documentation he needed to register for our stay.
The desk clerk took one look at two weary travellers with a cranky toddler in tow (me!), and said,
“Relax. You’re not in that country anymore. Here’s your room key. Go get some sleep and we’ll deal with the paperwork in the morning.”
I think my Dad almost cried out of gratitude and relief.
Although we settled the bill with the hotel when we left, my Dad doesn’t remember us ever properly registering with them!
Isn’t that what God’s grace is like?
God accepts us before we’ve proven ourselves or filled out all the forms or ticked off all the boxes.
When we accept Christ’s atoning sacrifice on our behalf, we can enter into His rest. We don’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops first.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
In our world we’re used to having to demonstrate our worthiness before anyone will accept us. It’s almost hard to get our minds around the idea that, thanks to Jesus, God opens His arms to us before we’ve done a single thing to merit it.
“That’s what grace is--an amazing gift that we don’t deserve and cannot earn or contribute to. It’s lavish, it’s undeserved, it’s extravagant—it’s unmerited favour that God bestows freely to those willing to receive it. We can’t earn it, we can’t contribute to it, we can’t repay him for it, we can’t take any credit for it, but God offers it because he made us in his image and he wants to have a relationship with us for eternity. That’s the Good News of the gospel.” (Craig Hazen)
We don’t have to present God with a resume of good deeds we’ve done for Him before He’ll welcome us. In fact, the order is reversed. We serve God out of gratitude for what He’s already done for us: provided a way for our sins to be forgiven through His Son’s work on the Cross.
“For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.” (St. Augustine)
Once we wrap our minds around the concept of grace, our souls can relax. We’re not in a performance-based religious system anymore.
The key is believing in Jesus.
“Grace means there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make God love me less.” (Philip Yancey)
So relax. You’ve checked in to the grace hotel!
© 2023 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.