Aka “it is finished”
Aka the words that my kind and conscientious boss at the coffee shop says to me in his Iranian accent whenever I ask if there’s anything left to be done. “Do the coffee beans need to be grinded for tomorrow?” “It is finished.” “Do I need to make some more chicken salad?” “It is finished.” “What about cleaning the espresso machi—“ “It is finished.”
It’s such a polished response to my simple questions, but these three words have MINISTERED to me while working behind the pastry shelf in this tiny coffee shop—and not just because that means there’s less work for me to do during the closing shift.
Because I know these words, I know them well. From Sunday school as a kid, from exegetical papers written and bible verses memorized in high school, from twenty-three years of hearing those same words preached ever so dramatically every Easter Sunday.
But these three words have a different ring to them now. Now, in the midst of these newly found bouts with anxiety. Now, as I grapple with polarizing current events that break my heart. Now, as I prepare to take on walking people through all of the sacred and the hard life things as a future therapist. Now, as I slowly learn to take down the unchecked boxes and to do list of things that should make me “good enough.”
These ministering three words are not, “I am enough.” Rather that He was enough. That His actions that brought me unsolicited and unearned grace were enough and that it was done, finished, kaput, before I even existed, and without any condition (my hardworking-American-bred-mind can hardly wrap my head around that one).
My moments of anxiety where I get nervous walking into crowded spaces? The shepherd of shepherds is with me and guiding me and protecting me, and I’m able to have a relationship with Him because of Jesus and that torn veil (Matthew 27:51). The heartbreak of lives lost and children without parents and tension-filled families? Jesus has them, had them, and will have them. And He weeps with them and the rest of us too (John 11:35). Me stressing about one day holding the weight of people’s deepest struggles? It won’t be me; it’ll be the ultimate mediator, the Holy Spirit, working through, thanks to Jesus and again, that radical veil tearing. Me trying to do more and say more in order to be the perfect friend, daughter and Christian? Not needed.
Life is full of stressors and heavy things, but since working at this coffee shop and hearing these three words more often than usual, I have learned that I can rest easy; for, it is finished.
He said those words while dying on a cross, next to a thief, after being betrayed, spit on, mocked, and ultimately crucified.
And here I am thinking I’ve got to do more, say more, and be more? I could never do what He did. Never. And I’m thankful there’s no more work to be done but to bask in His grace and to love. Fiercely.
And not only is that grace, but that is radical compassion, a revolutionary level of forgiveness, and a newfound understanding that there WILL be justice. That God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit—the ultimate musketeers if you will—do not work on your timeline or mine. This is not a transactional sort of deal. They’ve already done the biggest part of the fighting, now they just want to do the guiding. What’s left for me to do? The listening.
For, “It is finished.”
It’s not easy, and it’s an ongoing pruning sort of process this, “It is finished” business—but it is worth it.
By embracing this grace, and in abandoning our own checklists, we find ourselves falling for and being wooed by Jesus over and over again. We begin to yearn to know the character of God better, which brings about more opportunities to recognize His radical grace amid our own shortcomings. It’s the sweetest of romances.
As we live this life of being wooed and of getting to know God better, we soon realize that, we are working the closing shift. All of the work was done before we even clocked in. Now our job is to serve up what our good God has already prepared to others.
Radical love & unmerited grace. That’s what’s been prepared and that’s what can be served. We get better at serving it the better we get to know The Creator of all things. Sometimes we get tired and serve our own bitterness or selfishness to others, but that’s all part of learning what’s His and what is not; love and grace, that’s His. The best part? We can take heart as we learn these lessons because He’s got all of the grace in the world. Literally.
So let’s live liberated by this unmerited grace and hang on to this radical love for there’s nothing left for us to do but to embrace that, (say it with me now) IT. IS. FINISHED.
My prayer and hope for you and I as we continue learn more about how to embrace those three ministering words:
“Therefore, brothers (sisters), since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23 (NIV)
Matthew 27:51 “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” (NIV)
John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” (NIV)
23. Coffee drinker. People lover. Classic movie watcher. Pro procrastinator. Aspiring runner. Practicing listener. Grace embracer. Mess maker. Recreational writer. Prodigal daughter. // Six months ago I was a house mom to teenage girls in the foster system on a ranch in small town Texas, now I’m living in Orange County, California, studying to be a Marriage and Family Therapist and working at a coffee shop part time. You can follow my sporadic life posts here @morganestewart_