This reflection comes to us from Rebecca Lankford.

I have a confession: I recently ruined the day of a perfectly innocent Charter service representative. Or at least, I am fairly certain I did.

My call to the Charter hotline began with a mere question about billing. An hour and several Charter employees later, my issue was still unresolved and my patience was wearing thin. I was constantly transferred from one representative to another, all of whom seemed hopelessly unable to offer a solution to my (seemingly) simple problem.

When I was transferred yet again for the fifth time (no exaggeration, fifth), I had reached the end of my rope. Between the frustration over the loss of my precious time, the artificial cheer of every new representative who would be “more than happy to help with that, Miss Lankford!” and the maddening hold music I was forced to sit through, I was a grenade of anger. All it took was for one more representative to tell me they were unable to help but would be “happy to transfer me!” for the pin to be pulled.

I raised my voice. I was cold and short. I did not even attempt to hide my anger. Had my new roommate been around, I’m certain she would have begun to question her decision to move in with me. This poor, poor service representative, who was just trying to do her job, was suddenly on the receiving end of my humanness on full display. Because she was unable to offer a solution, I treated her with no sense of kindness or grace. At that moment, she was valueless to me. And I am not proud to admit that I treated her as such.

We eventually came to the conclusion that I indeed needed to be transferred again, at which point I did not so much as even thank the woman for her time. When I arrived at the next (and final!) representative, he had an easy solution to my problem. Was it because he was more competent than the previous representative? No—he simply had the good fortune of working for the correct department I needed.

It was then—and only then—that my entire disposition changed. Because this representative held the key to solve my problem, I was friendly and grateful. We even began cracking jokes. In about three short minutes, The Great Charter Call of 2018 was pleasantly wrapped up.

I hung up feeling 1) rushed because I was now running incredibly late due to the hour I had just spent on the phone, 2) relieved to have my billing issue behind me, and 3) slightly guilty for the way I had treated the penultimate representative…but only slightly.

It wasn’t until later, however, that I realized how my entire interaction with both her and the final representative was the compete antithesis of how The Lord deals with us. I was completely convicted of my sin and drawn to my knees yet again at the foot of the cross.

Because I am marred by sin, I have a tendency to live a transactional life in accordance with the transactional nature of our world. If you cannot help me, I am less likely to extend kindness to you. If you are able to benefit me, I will change my attitude accordingly. You prove yourself worthy, I shall treat you as such.

Praise be to God that grace says the opposite.

I have come to see that the gospel is made more beautiful when held in contrast with the ways of the world. When the world says “do,” the gospel says “rest.” When the world says “try harder,” the gospel says “it is finished.” Where the world says “if/ then” the gospel says “always.”

I am of no help to God, yet He chose to love me before the foundation of the world and will never cease in loving me. While I was still a sinner—a sinner who yells at innocent Charter representatives—he died for me (Romans 5:8). He sees me with the perfect righteousness of Jesus, no matter how unrighteous my actions may be. He did not wait for me to get my act together or to have the right answers, for He knew that I would never be able to. Rather, in grace, He sought me. Despite my utter inability to be of any necessary service to The One who is without need—The One who has held all things together since the foundation of the earth.

Oh, Charter representative, who unjustly received my wrath, whose name I didn’t even have the decency to remember: I owe you a big apology. I am a sinner who is just as helpless as you. I, however, unlike you, do deserve to be treated with that condemnation because of my actions towards you. Yet, how thankful I am that we are both loved by a God who sent His son to absorb that wrath for us. Because of Christ, I am freed to repent of how poorly I treated you and seek to live in a manner that is less transactional and more grace-filled. It is a work in progress.

Thank you for reminding me why I need Jesus. Thank you for pointing me back to The One who loves to extend grace to those who are least helpful to him.

If you’re reading this, and I know the odds are slim, let’s hang out some time. Dinner is on me.