by Max Davis
One Sunday afternoon, my wife, Alanna, and I were driving through a neighborhood when we saw the cutest little blond-headed girl at the street’s edge holding up a cardboard poster that read LEMONADE-25 CENTS. The weather was hot, really hot, Louisiana hot. The girl was five, maybe six, and her older, much wiser brother (maybe nine) tended the money and drinks some thirty feet back off the street. Business was slow, and both Alanna and I could see the desperation in the little girl’s face. As we slowed down, Alanna fumbled in her purse for fifty cents. An expression of surprise swept across the girl’s face, as to say, “Hey, we have a customer, an actual customer!” Then, she paused, almost frozen, unsure of what to do next. Slowly, she inched her way to the car window. At that moment, her expression changed and seemed to say, “Are you sure? Do you really want to buy Lemonade from me, a little kid?”
Still unsure, she glanced back at her brother. He waved at her: “Go ahead.” Alanna placed two shiny quarters in her hand. For a few brief seconds, she just stood and stared at her hand. Then reality hit: “Two quarters!” She turned and dashed to the stand with excitement. Shortly afterward, she came creeping back, cautiously, so as not to spill a single drop, with two extremely small bathroom dispenser cups full of watered-down lemonade. My wife and I took them and offered our words of encouragement. As we drove off, Alanna peered down at hers, giggled, then looked at me, and said, “I’m not drinking mine.” I was more daring. I took a sip—almost pure sugar water with one piece of melting ice. “I’m not either,” I responded. As soon as we were out of the children’s view, we poured the lemonade out and looked at each other with big smiles.
What a picture of God’s grace! Most of us, deep in our hearts, want to please God with our lives. We desire to make a difference. So often, though, our best efforts get watered down in the heat of stressful circumstances and we are overwhelmed by our guilt. When this happens, our temptation is to give up and believe that we have nothing God wants.
Yet, just as Alanna and I did with those kids, God does with us. He takes the initiative. He’s stopping by our lives and saying, “Give me what you’ve got.” He’s not asking you to clean up your act and get perfect before you come to Him. Your best efforts may be weak and watered down, with loads of unwanted sugar, but God wants to take it. Does God need our lemonade? I don’t think so. God doesn’t need our watered-down efforts and mistakes. He needs us. Remember that God loved us first. That’s why he’s trying to give us two quarters for whatever we have. Not because we deserve it, or because what we’re offering is worth His price. We could never pay the price that God paid for us.
I love the passage of Scripture found in Psalm 103:8-14. It has become a pillar in my life. Maybe it can become a pillar in yours, too. Read it slowly and let it sink into your inner being.
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love . . . He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him . . . As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are but dust.”
Someone out there needed to hear that today. I know I did.
About Max: Max Davis is the author of over thirty books, has been featured in USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, and has appeared on The Today Show and The 700 Club. He holds degrees in journalism and biblical studies. In addition to his own works, he’s done a variety of ghostwriting and collaboration projects. He and his wife Alanna, live in Greenwell Springs, LA on 40 beautiful acres under an umbrella of live oaks. They have three grown children and a brand new grandbaby, Sam. His latest book, Dead Dog Like Me is in bookstores everywhere including Lifeway. Check out www.MaxDavisBooks.com