I love ice cream and I eat it with some regularity. The cool sweet creaminess is refreshing and delicious, and even the image of ice cream speaks to me of relaxation and enjoyment. I don’t hurry my way through ice cream, taking a long time to lick a cone, or savoring a little bit of topping with each bite of a sundae. When I was very young I made a poster with the heading “ice cream is good any way” and I illustrated it with a cone, a sandwich, and a sundae.
I’ll admit, now that I’m older each decision to eat ice cream usually comes with a bit of debate. Should I have some at this time? When was the last time I had some? What else have I eaten today? What else do I plan to eat? What else am I willing to forgo so that I can have some? How much exercise have I done? Of course all these questions are related to my weight and my body image and (in last place) my health. Have my good choices weighed out this potentially bad choice? I have it pretty firmly embedded in my thinking that I must earn my ice cream, that it is a reward for good behavior.
I’ll also admit that my relationship with God is somewhat like my relationship with ice cream. Even though the reformed Presbyterian theology is embedded firmly in the belief that all our transgressions are forgiven – that Christ died to save us from our sins, once and for all – I still fall into old ways of thinking. I catch myself thinking that I have to earn God’s grace, that I have to do enough good things to account for the times when I am selfish or competitive or uncaring.
Thankfully, I sometimes short-circuit my questions about whether to have ice cream or not and I just enjoy it! So too I am learning to stop the calculations and equations about earning God’s grace and instead rest in the assurance, the blessed feeling of acceptance, that comes with putting aside the questions and instead believing in what I say. I am loved by God no matter what, and I don’t have to earn that love. I can chose to relax and accept it, enjoying the feeling of refreshment and joy that comes along with it. Amen!
“There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” Ecclesiastes 2:24-25.