Written by Ray Lentzsch
That salvation is a free gift, received through faith in Christ, is very clear from St Paul’s writing in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."
This teaching is further underlined in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death (what man has earned and deserves) but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (given simply on the basis of love for another).
I would like to share an experience form my childhood that I hope will clarify this teaching.
Once my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I asked for my first two-wheel bicycle. Being one of seven children, and my parents only recently having emigrated to America, my mother reminded me that a bicycle costs a lot of money.
Not being old enough to understand the economics of buying a bicycle, I naturally interpreted my mother’s statement as depending on my behaviour.
In the coming weeks before Christmas, I did my best to be on my very best behaviour.
One morning, coming down to breakfast, my little sister Sylvia, decided to put me to the test. Pretending not to see me, she bumped into me. I chided her for not watching where she was going.
Smiling impishly, she responded: “You’re trying to be good to get that bicycle, aren’t you?” Knowing I hated to be tickled, she ducked behind me and playfully sunk her fingers into my ribs. Jumping up, I shouted at her: “Lay off!” Then coming directly in front of me, she put both thumbs into her ears and flapping her hand she stuck out her tongue at me.
That was the last straw. I reached over and grabbed one of her pigtails and gave her a good yank. As I did, her mouth went wide open like a fire alarm as she cried out, “Maaaa!”
Immediately of course my mother appeared on the scene, asking, “What happened?”
Sylvia cried out: “He pulled my hair!”
I immediately sought to defend myself by reminding my mother how she had provoked me three times.
My mother, placing her hands upon her hips and looking straight at me, said just one word: “Bicycle?”
I immediately responded, “Oh I forgot! Mother, may I take out the garbage? May I wash the dishes?”
Believe it or not, even on Christmas eve when we stood around the piano singing our traditional “Silent Night” before going to receive our gifts, I could hardly resist the temptation to pull Sylvia’s braid who was majestically playing the piano.
When the door to the living room was opened and all the gifts near the Christmas tree were revealed, I spotted the bicycle, I honestly thought it must be for my brother. I certainly haven’t qualified.
Finally, my mother saw me just standing still and asked if I didn’t want to receive my gift of the bicycle. I fairly well blurted out: “But I thought it was for my brother. I didn’t think I was good enough.”
My mother then took me in her arms and gave me a big squeeze and with tears coming down her cheeks, said: “You foolish little boy. We didn’t give you the bicycle because you were good enough, but because we love you.”
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Ray Lentzsch passed away on the 7th of July, 2020. Ray Lentzach visited 217 countries during the 38 years of his adventurous mission journey in spreading the gospel. He was stoned or put in jail several times. Many came to Christ through his ministry. He is now in the joyful presence of the Lord he served so faithfully.