Apple Pie and Amazing Grace: Doing Better than I Deserve

The Question

It came from Africa.

No, it wasn’t an animal trying to eat me, or a disease for which no one has a cure (which is more scary). It was a question, one asked by a Facebook friend in Uganda.

Pastor Ndahayo Shine asked: “How are you?”

imageHow am I? How does an American answer that question? I mean, seriously? What do I have to complain about?

Honestly, at the very moment Pastor Shine’s question popped up on Facebook Messenger I was eating a warmed-up piece of apple pie (as American as it gets).

Pie, I tell you!

I’m eating pie, and I get a question regarding how I’m doing from a man in Uganda. Africa! The place where famines kill more people than the NRA is blamed for!

So, I replied with the following answer:

“I am alive, not hungry, and not hurting. I have a roof over my head, a car in the driveway, and children who love me. My wife is faithful, the police are not after me, and the dog hasn’t chewed anything important in a long, long time. I guess you could say I’m doing better than I deserve.”

Am I Blessed?

So many times we answer questions like “How are you doing?” with things like, “I’m fine,” or “I’m blessed.” However, to be honest – which I try to be most of the time – I’d rather admit to being “fine” than “blessed.”

Why is that? 

Saying that I’m blessed has a sneaky way of implying that those in other places – like Africa – are NOT blessed, at least not as much as me. I mean, what does it say about Christianity and the character of God when those who are “abundantly blessed” are the ones who rarely feel the need to trust God for their next meal? What I own or what’s parked in my driveway is not a mark of spirituality, nor should it insinuate I’ve lived a life more worthy of blessing than my brothers and sisters living in poverty.

If I am blessed at all, it’s not because of anything I’ve done or deserve; I am simply the recipient of God’s grace. I have been allowed, according to God’s sovereignty, to live in a country where leftover pie in a functioning refrigerator is commonplace.

Jesus made it pretty clear who the “blessed” really are. They are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers (Matthew 5:3-9). And if that’s not enough, “…Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…” (Revelation 14:13).

What I Don’t Deserve

While saying “fine,” I’d bet the temptation to answer the question “How are you doing?” with complaints is almost overwhelming for most. Oh, admit it – you say you’re “fine” because you don’t think the person asking is really that interested in hearing your list of ailments, worries, and irritations.

You probably answer with “fine” because you don’t want to sound like a cry baby or a hypochondriac, right? Because, admit it, you feel you deserve better than what you have; you don’t really feel “blessed,” do you?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t deserve anything but hell. Yet, for some reason God has allowed me to be the recipient of many good things which I don’t deserve, even if I have worked for a lot of it.

I don’t deserve a faithful wife, loving children, and a devoted dog. I don’t deserve to be a pastor, have a regular income, or be respected in my community.

I don’t deserve electric appliances that make life easier or the home in which I live. I certainly don’t deserve the freedom to come and go as I please without having to rely on public transportation or worry about being stopped by thugs demanding to search my car.

How am I doing? What can I say? I just ate pie…because it was there…and I wasn’t even hungry! If I’m blessed, it’s abundantly above and beyond what I need.

God is good, but His grace is Amazing! 

 

7 Comments

Filed under America, Christian Living, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

7 responses to “Apple Pie and Amazing Grace: Doing Better than I Deserve

  1. Fine or blessed, Glory to God! Thanks for the read. Inspired I am!

  2. And we all are blessed to read your posts! Thank you.

  3. Thank you Pastor Anthony. I great reminder to us who live in Canada & U.S.A.
    I often think similar to you when that question is asked. I know someone who always replies “Blessed” with a huge grin.
    I am so thankful for all God has done for me, being born in this country with many luxuries, undeserved. Why! But for God’s Grace and Mercy. I wonder how others in countries less “blessed” think. Yet I know many are more satisfied and joyful than many on this side of the Atlantic.
    We have a good friend from Uganda, now residing and working here, with her Mom and siblings in Uganda still. All are Christ followers, and our friend, as well as her Mom, Aunt and Sister, whom I have met a couple of times when they visited here, are so full of Joy, Peace, actually filled with Christ, and exhibit it more than many here.
    I am so thankful to be called a child of God, even though undeserved, and not understood, but filled with Joy.

    Forgive my long response, had to share my heart’s feelings also.

  4. hawk2017

    Fine sermon, Pastor Anthony. We need to remember this.:)

  5. Thanks, Anthony! I did 2 short term mission trips to the Dominican Republic back in 1993 and 94. At the time I was living in Durham, NC in public housing and everything in my apartment came from the trash (including the 2 window air conditioners. Yet, with all of that during these two 10-day trips I learned what poverty is. I watched helplessly as a father chopped the hands of a friend because he stole 3 bananas to feed his children. A FRIEND! There is so much we Americans take for granted in this great nation. We can not begin to even understand the privilege we as Americans have no matter the skin color your still way better off in this nation than many other parts of the world. What we do with it is what matters. We are in fact each generation away from losing what America is. It is not perfect far from it but it isn’t at the end of the list either. God help us steward better our nation and our play in our nation. Blessings of gratitude.

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