Willing, but not able

April 4, 2022

“I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.” Romans 7:19 The Message

Our two youngest granddaughters were here the week before last for their spring break. When them in tow, I made what I thought was going to be quick run into Food Lion.  I pushed the cart towards produce to get strawberries, but we didn’t make it past a gauntlet of over-priced, unhealthy food and cheap plastic toys, along with a few stuffed animals strategically and diabolically placed at a child’s eye-level. They stopped dead in their tracks!

Their eyes lit up and the begging began, “Nana, can I have…” Anne-Sophie immediately had her heart set on a bag of 20 Hatchimals each holding four jellybeans and a tiny sticker that had trouble living up to its name stick. I suggested that they might share it, as 20 was a big number, but by that time Marie-Helene had spied something that reminded me of a PEZ candy dispenser with a plastic peep head at the top that opened with a lever, revealing one of three enclosed lollipops. The total cost for both was more than double what I paid for the lovely box of strawberries, but I am a grandma, after-all. I did try to land on the side of reason, telling them that they could only have one of their items a day – and the sweet was a dessert replacement.

That evening, Anne-Sophie graciously said she’d give Marie-Helene half of the Hatchimals.  I praised her for her generosity. I was being naïve. Because the next morning, she reasoned with her younger sister that since she’d given her HALF of the Hatchimals, it would be nice if Marie-Helene would give her a lollipop. Marie-Helene said “no.” It wasn’t generous on Marie-Helene’s part, but it was her right to do so, there had been no quid pro quo in the gift. Gifts, by their nature are not quid pro quo. Anne-Sophie’s feelings got hurt, and the generous older sister let loose a less-than-generous tirade of words about not ever sharing again. It is amazing how so readily we humans, not just little girls, can become that which we oppose. I know. I’ve been sick and tired and full of grief. That combination makes for less-than-generous thoughts, words, and behaviors.

The apostle Paul found himself in a similar dilemma. Here are his words in The Message translation, “I’ve tried everything, and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7:24-25)

Even when we get bent out of shape over not having our good generous acts reciprocated, like a little girl I know, and like me, GRACE ABOUNDS. Conflicted and shame-filled Paul penned these words about it. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

Thankful for grace! ~ AnnePastor Anne

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