This a re-post from a note I penned in Facebook in late Spring 2009. (you can find the original post Here )
Found a brief note I had written to myself on the back of an ATM receipt immediately after arriving home from my trip to the Middle East in mid February of this year 2009. It was entitled “ The Grace of God” – unmerited favor.
I jotted down 2 distinct times in my life where I experienced a profound sense of God’s grace – a distinct knowing or acknowledgement in my heart that I was the recipient of favor that was unmerited, unearned, unsolicited and feeing greatly humbled and unworthy of it. It was a knowing that I was profoundly loved and cared for by God Himself and wondering why.
My first remembrance was when I was 16 yrs old at a retreat that my Catholic all-girl school required for rising seniors. Unbeknownst to us, they had asked our parents (one or both) to write letters to us, which we then read during a one on one reflection time with the priest. Because I was not Catholic, and not particularly religious other than singing sometimes in my church’s youth choir (AME Church)- it was more of a discussion.
The retreat was held at a beautiful simple place in the woods and we were in a peaceful contemplative room. I can’t remember how the conversation started but I remember being handed my letters – my Mom and Dad wrote separate letters as requested. The letters were not lengthy, but they packed all the love they had in every sentence. As I read the letters I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being blessed. Not in the trite way that Christian folks say it now, because I really felt that I had literally been touched by God Himself. Tears started to well up in my eyes and the priest gently asked about what was going on. I told him that I was not worthy to be so blessed but I knew I was. I told him that I didn’t have a perfect life, but that I knew I had a great life with generous, wonderful parents who loved me unconditionally. I felt unworthy of this blessing – understanding that most folks don’t have this life. I knew I didn’t deserve any of it, but for some reason God had placed me in this environment just because. Everybody knows their parents love them, but somehow I KNEW it was from GOD. Before this time, my only thoughts about God were making sure He knew I didn’t need a personal visitation from the Virgin Mary. (That was really popular back then –No thank you. )
Fast forward to 2009
The second time of experiencing a profound sense of God’s unmerited favor was just a few months ago as I traveled to the airport leaving Dubai UAE. I knew that God had arranged the trip when I least expected it, did nothing to earn it, was completely unsolicited, and yet He wanted me to go. In fact, I entered into the New Year with huge challenges before me: drying up contracts, promising job interviews that the economy shut down, finishing up school applications for my kids for next year wondering how it was going to be paid and really REALLY missing my mother. Out of the blue, I was asked by a friend to attend this conference with her in Kuwait which was starting in 3 weeks with a few days afterward to see Dubai – I thought she was joking. Did she remember that I studied the subject matter in grad school? No – God just laid it on her heart to ask me to go.
God literally took me out of my circumstances and sent me half way around the world to relax with a skyline view in Dubai – no conditions. Like the first time when I was 16, tears welled up in my eyes because I knew that God had chosen me. In every view of the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait and then the Dubai skyline, I saw the hand of God in the gift of my friend. Through her willingness to obey God’s voice, I heard His voice saying I was very dear to Him, and that He wanted to show me so in a deliberately profound way. It also wasn’t just about me either – others were blessed to by this favor toward me.
What I know for sure it that God uses us as the vessels to bless others. We go day in and day out ignoring, discounting, and sometimes berating the conduits of God’s blessings in our lives and the lives of those around us. We need to cherish and honor these relationships, everyone that we come in contact with. We need so see them for the gift from God that they are and seek to share that gift to others. Grace comes in the smile of stranger, the hug of a child, a beautiful bloom in an unexpected place, a random compliment from your spouse. It is really all around us, if we have eyes to see.
Jesus did not wait till we deserved salvation to give His life for us – He extended grace when we needed it. Unlike Will Smith’s character in Seven Pounds, He is not going through our records and proving our character to see if we deserve the gift of life, grace, healing, provision. No- He says come to Him as you are, where ever you are, however you are.—and He’lll do the work in you as we allow Him access. In fact, He says “Come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in the time of need”
And sometimes, when you are least expecting it – He sends a fresh breeze of His grace and perhaps a fresh rain, to water and cool the dry places of our souls. Just because He can.
On the Arabian Gulf at dusk