Last evening my amazingly wonderful mother-in-law came to spend time with us. I was getting up to leave the supper table, distracted, thinking about the meeting I was heading out the door to get to. They all pretended to cough, all of my sweet loved ones around the dining room table glowing with candlelight and strewn with remnants of a Friday night pizza and bar cookies smeared across little faces. Gratitude journals busily being scribbled in. "Stay, mama! I think I may be getting sick!" More coughing and giggles. I try to clean up some of the mess before I have to go, anxiously looking at the clock and knowing that I must be leaving to get there on time. I give kisses to all of them, making my way around the table as I pulled on my coat to guard against the cold and snow awaiting me outside. I promise to be gone only as long as I have to, and out the door I went. I got into my car and put up the garage door, just like always. I started to back out, just like always. And then I ran into my mother in law's car.
I made a big mistake and today feels hard.
This week, the fuel pump went out in my man's truck, our Yukon is not working right, the heater for our home broke, a tooth chipped in the back of my mouth, we're learning again how to fully trust the Lord to provide for our needs since He called Aaron out of the ministry, and now this. Ugh. Double ugh. Tears are flowing and I'm not trying to stop them. Sometimes a soul needs a good cleansing. I noticed that when I cry, I can physically see better. When tears fill my eyes it's like having the benefit of binoculars; all things around me come into view clearly. I decide that this is exactly what I need, but I need it more for my spirit.
When I backed into Mom's car, I received something I clearly did not deserve: grace. My mom immediately hugged me, telling me it was going to be just fine. My man who, truth be told, I was even more worried about than my mom looked me straight in the eyes and held both of my wet cheeks in his strong hands and said, "It's o.k. God will provide." Both of them just kept pouring grace out on me all last night and this morning. But how does one who deserves to be chastised for such a silly mistake accept this grace freely and lovingly given? I'm only now starting to feel it. The first impulse is to pulverize the self, let condemning words run freely through the mind and nod the head in utter agreement. Why? Because I know that's what I deserve. Here's what I know. Grace is hard to give sometimes. But it is always hard to be on the receiving end of it. Always. We're not dummies. We know what we should get. And when we don't get it we're dumbfounded. We don't know what to do with it.
Isn't this what I've done for the past 20 years of my walk with Christ? He has poured out grace upon grace over my head, and I've worked and worked to earn it, not daring to fully believe that He gives it not because I deserve it but because He loves me. Me, who feels the least deserving of it because I know myself. Surely He must be using this as an object lesson for me. Accept grace. Breathe it in. Live in it. Rest in it. Stop the worry and the work and the self-condemnation. There is no more, NO MORE, condemnation for those who live in Christ Jesus. So I read this blog by Ann Voskamp and I remember again to force myself to accept grace, and that I can't see all that God is going to do through this but I can know that He will indeed work ALL things to the good of those who love Him and that I need to learn to give thanks in ALL circumstances like the Holy Spirit is teaching me through Paul, and suddenly I begin to see clearly again.