Gifts Unearned

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15, ESV)

“It is a privilege for me to ask if you would consider coming into the Athletes in Action Hall of Faith!” My first reaction to Mark Householder’s invitation was surprise. “Me? Are you sure you are asking the right person? I didn’t do anything to earn this.”

Athletes in Action holds a special place in my spiritual roots dating back to my college golf experience. As I stood on the stage to officially receive the 2018 Athletes in Action Hall of Faith Female Inductee honor, I shared with the crowd how I am certain that Athletes in Action changed the trajectory of my spiritual journey when I was searching for help and a place to belong as a new follower of Jesus.

During my drive home from Ohio, I found myself reflecting on the fact that I did nothing to earn this award. I didn’t shoot the lowest score, make the winning basket, or close the business deal. Other trophies I have in my possession I earned based on my performance. I was invited to receive this trophy because others had witnessed me “grow and develop as a minister of the gospel, and we love your heart for God and your strong and consistent character.”

There is nothing wrong with earning an award. Actually, I believe God wants us to strive for excellence and often that can end with a tangible achievement. But when we are invited to receive an award, whether we perceive we deserve it or not, we are given a choice to say no or yes.

To receive something means to take hold of it. This is what Jesus was saying about the kingdom of God. When a child is offered a toy or food, he will reach out and take it with his hand. No time is wasted in pondering whether he deserves the object in his sight. When I share with people how I first met Jesus, I often say, “I invited Jesus into my heart.” I am gaining a new perspective that that is not actually true.

God is the one who invites us into the kingdom of God, not because we have done anything to earn it, but only because he is asking us to receive it. We must reach out and take hold of it by saying yes.

When we choose to say yes to Jesus, we are sealed by his Holy Spirit as his children and our spiritual journey begins. A journey of ups and downs, successes and failures, and joys and heartaches.

If you’re anything like me, then many days you feel or believe that you don’t deserve God’s love and you shift back into trying to earn it. We all need to be reminded with every new sunrise comes the opportunity to receive (to take with our hand, to take hold of) Jesus’ living water as our sustenance for the day.

My new trophy is sitting in a place where it will remind me that I did nothing to earn it. I only had to say yes to receive it.

Tracy Hanson
May 24, 2018
Copyright 2018 Links Players International

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