I recently graduated from JMU. (Yes, a year early. No, I don't know what I'm doing with my life yet.) It was such a bittersweet celebration of my time at such an incredible university, of the past three years and all the memories and moments that made them so special, of friends and family, of reminiscing on the past and looking excitedly and expectantly forward to the future.
My grandparents came to my graduation since they live only a few hours away, and at lunch after the ceremony, they handed me an envelope. I opened it, found a sweet card, and then a folded up piece of paper inside. I opened it, and my grandpa instructed me to read it aloud.
I began reading a funny poem in the form of a dialogue between my grandpa and my grandma. As I read, I realized what the poem was for. Here's the background story.
Last summer, I studied abroad in London. I had been saving up, but my grandparents graciously offered to pay for my plane ticket so I could use the money I had saved while I was in London. My grandpa also surprised me (the famous gift-giver that he is) with a credit card with $1,000 on it for me to spend while I was there. And yes, I spent almost all of it. The plan was always for me to pay back the plane ticket, and to pay half of the credit card back while the other half was a gift. So, all in all, I owed them about $1,800. For a broke college kid, this wasn't fun or easy to pay back, but over the past year, I had started to make a dent in it.
Back to the poem. The closing lines (in rhyme, of course) told me that my debt was erased. And not only that, but that they would give me back the money I had already paid them toward it.
As you might imagine, I was floored and humbled and speechless and in awe. This huge weight that had been on my mind for almost a year, nagging at me and looming over me, was all of a sudden gone. I had no more debt to pay.
The whole rest of the day, all I could think about was grace. What a perfect picture of grace this gift was. I had been working so hard to pay them back, trying to save (and failing), taking extra shifts at work when I could, trying to budget and be smart about how I was spending my money. I was working so, so hard to pay it back and make the debt go away, but I wasn't even coming close. And then, in an act of such selfless and undeserved love, it was erased. I know it wasn't easy of them to do it-- $1,800 isn't pocket change. There was a cost to the gift, but they gave it because they loved me and they knew I couldn't work hard enough or long enough to pay it back. And not only did they erase the debt, but they took it a step further, returning what I had already paid back to me. They gave me more than I deserved, more than was necessary, more than I could have imagined. They knew I didn't have much money saved up, and they gave me a way to make that happen, too.
I'm still so humbled by their generosity and graciousness. I'm humbled by the picture that this gift was to me of the abundant grace and love my Savior poured out for me on the cross. I'm humbled by how undeserving I was, but how selfless their love for me was, how perfect and how merciful. I'm humbled by how my Savior not only died for me to pay for the debt I owed in my sin and my shame, but how He took it one step further to bring me into eternal life with him, what He knew I needed but would never have been able to make happen on my own. I'm humbled. I'm thankful. I'm overwhelmed and full of gratitude.
I'm in awe of my God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10), and forever thankful for my grandparents and this gift so full of grace.