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MY FINAL GIFT TO MY DAD

Breaking the Chains of Performance-Driven Faith



Just a few days before Christmas, my dad lay dying. A man whose life had been a tapestry woven with threads of integrity, commitment, and love for his family and his God. Yet, in those final days, a shadow of fear gripped him. He was battling against an enemy he couldn't conquer—fear of what lay beyond life.


As I sat by his bedside, he opened up in one of our poignant conversations.


"I'm not sure I'm ready to meet God. I could have done better; I haven't lived my best life."


His words echoed in the chambers of my heart long after he took his last breath. It was a painful reminder of the burdens many carry – the fear of facing divine rejection based on a life they perceive as falling short of God's expectation.


My father wasn't the first to express such sentiments to me. Over the years, I've heard similar deathbed confessions from those raised in a "performance-driven" Christian context. A context that often leaves individuals haunted by the relentless pursuit of perfection, fearing they may be deemed unworthy in the eyes of God.


Faced with such heart-wrenching narratives, it is essential to challenge the notions of performance-driven faith and embrace the liberating truth of God's grace. Grace is not earned through perfect performance but freely given to all who humbly receive it.


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast - (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)


“Grace is not a reward for impeccable performance; it is a gift bestowed on the imperfect by a loving and merciful God.”

Performance-driven faith often instills the notion that our worthiness before God hinges on flawlessly executing a set of religious expectations. It whispers that our imperfections and shortcomings create an insurmountable chasm between us and divine acceptance. This toxic mindset, however, contradicts the very essence of grace.


Grace is not a reward for impeccable performance; it is a gift bestowed on the imperfect by a loving and merciful God. It is a balm for wounded souls, a salve for those burdened by their inadequacies. My father's struggle in those final days illuminates the profound impact of a legalistic faith that fails to grasp the magnitude of God's boundless mercy.


When we accurately understand God's love, we find comfort in the realization that grace is not contingent upon flawless performance. It is a divine embrace extended to us even in our brokenness. Paul told Pastor Titus that salvation and the reception of grace are rooted in God's mercy, not in human deeds or performance. It is a divine gift rather than a reward for perfection.


But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, being justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NIV).


Breaking free from the chains of performance- driven faith requires a paradigm shift towards a grace-centered understanding of our relationship with God. It involves accepting that God's love is not a commodity to be earned but a gift to be received. It means recognizing that our imperfections do not disqualify us from divine acceptance but rather serve as a tender reminder of our need for grace.




“My last gift to my dad wasn't wrapped in festive Christmas paper or secured with a ribbon.”

By embracing grace, we release the burden of striving for unattainable perfection and surrender to God's unconditional love. Painful deathbed confessions, like my dad's, become a catalyst for a transformative journey from fear to freedom, from performance-driven despair to grace-infused joy.


My last gift to my dad wasn't wrapped in festive Christmas paper or secured with a ribbon. Instead, it was a heartfelt blend of scripture and affirming words, carefully chosen to convey my love and respect." As I quoted Titus 3:5 (NIV), an incredible joy filled the room.


He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit."


A few hours later, he told Mom, "Kathleen, I'm ready to go now."


As we navigate the complexities of faith, let us cast aside the heavy yoke of performance- driven expectations. Instead, let us revel in the liberating truth that God's grace is sufficient to bridge the gap between our imperfect humanity and His perfect love. In doing so, we will discover a profound peace that will transcend our understanding—a peace that assures us that, in the end, it is grace that triumphs over all.




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