I can still see, and it feels like a miracle! After several years of regular eye injections, my Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) has stabilized. Wavy lines no longer obscure my vision, which has returned to 20/20 in both eyes. Another near-miracle: The cost of these procedures is covered by my health insurance.
Knowing this about me, you can see why I live with constant feelings of gratitude—to God, to doctors, to my insurance company. You might also imagine, correctly so, that I also feel that these blessings do not come my way because I deserve them. Instead, I remember Luther’s dying statement to his friends, “We are beggars after all.” I understand that this and other godsends come to me by grace.
All of this prompts a basic question: Besides gratitude, what do I do with this ever-present feeling of undeservedness? When I was younger—and these thoughts were first dawning on me—I could look at the likely prospect of a long life during which I would have multiple opportunities to extend God’s gifts beyond myself. I could imagine the choices I might make, the directions my life might take, the places and people where God’s grace would spread because of me.
Now, with my lifespan getting shorter, this matter—what to do with undeservedness—feels more urgent, more necessary to deal with while I have time to use all of God’s gifts—eyesight included—for God’s purposes.
The undeservedness has boiled down to “Why me?” questions, with answers that are immediate. “Now”, “here”, “these people”, “this opportunity” seem more appropriate and necessary responses to the lingering feeling that I’m ready and able to do something important.
So what might undeservedness look like when it’s distilled down to its essence at this stage in life? For me, God’s will is now front-and-center—the work God wants to get done, the places God is still calling me. Prayer and mindfulness become even more important in my daily thoughts. It makes sense to sharpen my present capabilities and to develop new ones. I certainly have few reasons to give up, roll over, cave in or cut back. I see no value in accumulating more toys, friends, accolades or check marks on a bucket list. I want to love and care for others more deeply and fiercely. Generosity wants to spread into more of my daily life. Expressing my gratitude pulls an expanding vocabulary into my brain. I look for ways to offer undeserved favor—grace—to others around me.
Make no mistake: This isn’t paying back God, as though my daily life ministries could equal the size and scope of all the miracles that fill my days. I harbor no guilt about the grace that’s been granted me, even though I realize that no matter how long I live, I’ll never be able to bless others’ lives as much as they might need or desire.
This undeservedness serves as a trusted, centering motivation for my lifework, and I am grateful that the feeling itself also comes as a gift from God.
Which makes me undeserving of undeservedness….!
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