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The Big Shuffle

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

In The Call of Service, author Robert Coles, exploring our reasons for serving, tells the moving story of an older woman’s service to others. As a bus driver, she showed great care toward the children she drove to school each day—quizzing them on homework and celebrating their successes. “I want to see these kids make it in life,” she said of her motivation. But there was another reason too.

As a youth, the words of an aunt had shaken this woman to the core. “She’d tell us that we had to do something God would notice,” she told Coles, “or else we’d get lost in the big shuffle!” Worried at the prospect of hell after the “big shuffle” of judgment, this woman had devised ways to “get God’s attention”—going to church so “He’d see me being loyal” and working hard to serve others so God might “hear from others what I was doing.”

I grieved reading her words. How had this dear woman never known that she already had God’s attention? (Matthew 10:30). How had she not heard that Jesus took care of the big shuffle for us, offering freedom from judgment forever? (Romans 8:1). How had she missed that salvation can’t be bought with good deeds but is a gift to anyone who believes? (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Christ’s life, death, and resurrection take care of our future with God and set us free to serve others with joy.

God generously gave us the most unselfish gift of all: His only Son, who would die on a cross for our sins and be raised to life. Any who receive this ultimate gift are rich beyond measure. As our hearts are focused on Him, our hands open in love to others.

Why is it easy to mistakenly believe you must do good things to be accepted by God? How does understanding the gospel help you to love others better?
God, help me to trust that You’ve done what’s needed for me to be accepted by You.


Around AD 60 or 61 Paul wrote the letter of Ephesians to the church in Ephesus—whom he loved dearly—after spending three years with them (Acts 20:17–31). He’d longed to make a friendly visit to them, but instead was imprisoned in Rome in “his own rented house” (28:30). Yet in that enforced confinement, Paul was free to have visitors and to write and preach. In fact, there “he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (v. 31). While Paul awaited trial before Caesar, he wrote his letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians.

Alyson Kieda

By |2019-12-20T12:07:27-05:00December 26th, 2019|
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