Grace After Grace

IMG_0787My pastor has a real heart for prayer. On Monday my husband and I joined him in a new kind of prayer ministry he has started as a community outreach. After receiving permission from the directors of our town’s medical clinic, we set up a tent, a table and some chairs on the lawn just outside the main doors. Our mission was to ask people going in and out of the clinic if we could pray for them.

That’s all. Pure and simple. Nothing added to it. Nothing taken from it.

To tell you the truth, I really didn’t know what to expect. I don’t like rejection and I half-believed there would be a lot of that, but God knows I love to pray and so do these two godly men I served alongside. I especially love to pray with others, taking their names to the throne of grace while holding their hands.

There are a lot of hurting people in our midst. Many of them feel helpless, sometimes hopeless. Some are frightened, afraid to even face tomorrow. Others feel completely alone. They just need to know someone cares. Somehow, prayer has a way of bringing comfort to those who may not even know how to pray for themselves. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve prayed with someone and we’ve both ended up in tears. Only Jesus can reach that deeply, touch that tenderly, and comfort that generously.

But I’ve come to understand something about prayer. Something that makes all my own personal suffering worth it. I’ve had my share of physical discomfort in life. I live with a measure of discomfort every single day, but God has not left me to cope on my own. He gives me all I need to live life well. If He does it for me, I know He’ll do it for anyone.

“Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness…” John 1:16

We have all received grace after grace…

Oh my goodness, I think I need to shout “Hallelujah!!”

Grace after grace after grace…never-ending grace. In other words, I’ve been given plenty to go around. It’s not to be hoarded or hidden away.  As it has freely and generously been given to me so I should freely and generously share it with others.

There’s a scene in the The Lord of the Rings movie, Fellowship of the Ring, that I have memorized. Frodo was stabbed by a morgul blade and near death. Lady Arwen raced him away on her horse, carrying him to her people where they had the power to save him. Along the way, they were pursued by the Nazgul who desired to capture Frodo, the bearer of their precious ring. Because they were held up by the enemy, Frodo began to slip away into the shadow world, but Arwen cradled him in her arms and with tears in her eyes she prayed,

“What grace has been given to me, let it pass to him.”

Such an abundance of grace has been given to me. I know where I’ve been. I know what I’ve done. I know what God has saved me from and what He still delivers me from. I know what I struggle with every single day. I know my weaknesses, my frailties, my insecurities. I know the power of grace. How can I not want others to know it, too?

When I hold someone’s hand or lay my hand on her (or his) shoulder to pray with her, in a way I’m cradling her in my arms. I don’t always want to just say, “I’ll pray for you,” and then put her name on my prayer list.  Sometimes I want to pray side-by-side, face-to-face, and hand-in-hand in the Presence of God. I want to share tears. I want to give comfort. I want to unleash grace.

I want to pass it on.

I know grace is unleashed in thousands of different ways, but prayer is so very personal and God is a personal God, meeting us right where we are and loving us just as we are. People need to know God sees, God hears, God cares. And I can show them that through prayer. Prayer is just another way to grace someone, but I believe it’s one of the most powerful.

We met with such a wonderful response yesterday outside the medical clinic. People were receptive, responsive, appreciative. And, yes, there were even some tears. I have no doubt God touched many hearts. I have no doubt God came down.

I have no doubt Grace abounded.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Prayer changes things. Prayer covers things. Prayer calms things.

For the love of grace, pass it on….

 

 

So Graced

ee52388ba75604b092e0f7b991357b18Let me tell you how bad my hearing is these days…not too long ago I parked my car in a busy parking lot and went to do some shopping in a pet store. Thirty minutes later I walked back to my car and found my keys still in the ignition with the engine running. I guess I’d been distracted before I got out of the car, but seriously, not even my hearing aids picked up the sound of my idly racing engine. Don’t even mention the stupidity of getting out of the car without my keys. I was so thankful that no one had stolen my car.

And so very thankful for the grace of God.

I quit my job last summer at the town cafe. A restaurant may seem an unlikely place for a hearing-impaired person, but a hearing-impaired person who is also visually-impaired? Definitely not likely. When I applied for the job I was honest with the owner, Mike, about my hearing disability. He said, “I don’t have a problem with that…”

…so graced.

A few days after I began work at this completely charming cafe in small town Spring Hope, I had a slight collision with Mike on the floor. He whipped around a corner on my blind side and I nearly knocked him over. I said, “I guess this would be a good time to tell you that I’m also blind in my left eye.” He didn’t even blink…

…so graced.

I learned to be extra careful as I maneuvered around the restaurant with plates of food, trays of drinks, and dirty dishes stacked precariously at every turn. Like the time I ran into a coworker and knocked a drink out of her hand that made a pretty big mess. She actually laughed…

…so graced.

I learned to be purposeful in the care taken to repeat every order so I didn’t make mistakes. Like the time I misunderstood an order and a customer had to wait twice as long to eat while his food was remade. He still tipped…

…so graced.

I learned to be aware of the activity all around me so I didn’t spill food in unwanted places. Like the time I was talking with a customer and knocked a hamburger and fries in her lap because I didn’t see or hear the server approach. She wasn’t a bit angry…

…so graced.

As my hearing degenerates I’m learning that I have to be intentional in many ways. Like when I get out of the car I have to make sure I’ve actually turned the engine off and my keys are in my purse. I check and recheck…

…so graced.

When I go shopping in a busy store I have to move with caution. Like the time I knocked someone down with a few groceries in her arms and had to grovel at her feet. She forgave me…

…so graced.

When I go to church I have to sit in a seat that gives me a good view of the pastor’s face so I can read lips. Sometimes I have to change seats three times before I find one where my view isn’t blocked. My family’s way over being embarrassed by this…

…so graced.

When I go to the bank I can’t go to the drive-in anymore. Like the time I couldn’t understand what the teller was saying through the speaker so I parked and went inside. She said, “I just wanted to know if there was anything else I could do for you today…”

…so graced.

God is so intentional in the way He graces me. Let’s face it, I don’t hear and see like most people around me, but who’s going to know that if I don’t tell them? If I want to get the most out of life I’m learning I have to be intentional, too. That means I have to let God’s grace do the work it was intended to do in me. My limitations force me to face challenges, but it’s grace that frees me to accept them.

I quit my job at the restaurant partly because the struggle was becoming too great to hear over all the activity and background noise, but God’s grace has no limits. I realize that even people with perfect hearing and perfect sight make the same mistakes I do, but sometimes it wears me out mentally and emotionally to be so intentional all the time. So aware. So cautious. So vulnerable.

Part of my lot in life is making the changes necessary to compensate for my physical limitations, but God will never change the way He extends His grace. It never wears Him out. I can count on it. I can depend upon it. I can expect it. I may be facing new challenges these days, but so what?

So graced, that’s what…

So God, that’s who..

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”  1 Corinthians 15:10

And the effect of this grace means my hearing-and-visually-impaired-self gets to shine His light in some of the most unlikely places…