Note: This is another guest post from my immensely talented wife, Dora. -Michael

For many years I worked in the meal plan office of a large university. In addition to making sure that the meal plans worked for the students, I was also responsible for answering the questions of students, parents, faculty or staff members. Most of the time the questions were what you would expect:

  • “When does my meal plan start?
  • “When is the last meal of the semester?
  • “When/How can I change/cancel my meal plan?”
  • “What happens if I run out meals?”

You get the idea. Sometimes, however, I would get a question that was unexpected. One that would cause me to have to pause for a moment before answering. One of those questions came when a mom called me early one morning and asked, “How many meals come with the Unlimited meal plan?”.

For a split second, I thought she was trying to be funny. Fortunately, before I opened my mouth, I realized she was being completely serious. I paused. Now, she didn’t seem to notice my pause, but it felt like an eternity to me while my brain raced to figure out a way to answer her question without implying that she was asking a silly or stupid question. Finally, the answer, “It depends on how many meals your student eats, I suppose.”, tumbled out of my mouth.

She was certain there was a catch. I assured her the only “catch” was that the meals could only be redeemed when our dining halls were open to everyone (no sneaking into the kitchen to make a 2 a.m. PB&J sandwich) and no taking meals out of the dining hall to eat later because of food safety issues. When she hung up the phone she seemed quite satisfied that the Unlimited meal plan was Unlimited, at least for the needs of her student.

Now, as silly as that mom’s question about the unlimited meal plan might seem, I find many of us asking the same question about God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. What’s the catch? We tell ourselves that we’re not good enough for unlimited anything from God. We get angry. We get jealous. We aren’t cheerful givers. Sometimes, we break our promises. The list of all our faults could go on and on.

The truth of the matter is that we aren’t “good enough” and we never can be. We live in a fallen and broken world. But that’s what is so amazing about God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. It doesn’t matter that we aren’t perfect, or that despite our best efforts we still make mistakes. He loves us anyway. He forgives us anyway. He pours His grace over us anyway.

But, there is a catch. It’s not that we can only receive His gifts during certain time periods or in certain places. The catch is that we have to accept His love. We have to accept His grace. We have to accept His forgiveness.

That’s it. The only catch to God’s unlimited grace is our choice of whether or not to accept it.

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