September 6, 2011
Amazing Grace by Jerry Murray
It had been hours since we beached the raft that carried our family down eight miles of rapids on the Lehigh River. We were tired, cold and extremely HUNGRY. We eagerly awaited our favorite pizza and it was almost here. Each family member had already commented how long it was taking when our server showed up with a smile and hot pizza in hand. Finally!
It happened in slow motion. As the waitress departed, our seven year old son, distracted by the restaurant television, turned towards the table with great enthusiasm. As he did, his forearm nailed the sweet spot of a cup holding 28 ounces of cold, sticky, lemony lemonade with force comparable to that of a Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker into Ben Roethlisberger. As liquid flew airborne, the only question was… where would it land? Amazingly, no family members were hit. Like a heat seeking missile, Jared’s entire drink landed squarely on top of the dinner that we had anticipated moments before. You can imagine my shock, disappointment and annoyance. I was blind. What a great teaching opportunity. Thankfully, my nine year old daughter, Ella didn’t miss it. Ella’s justice orientation typically demands payment for all iniquities. She stared at Jared, then with great sensitivity, softened her expression and said – “that’s ok kid, we’ve all done something like that before.” Jared sensed her sincerity and responded (much to my shock), “when we get back to the car, I’m going to hug you.” Two surprising statements – a proud moment for my wife, Kim, and me.
Grace is amazing. It’s amazing to the person receiving it. It frees you to be yourself; to love someone back; it also creates a spirit of gratefulness. Grace is amazing to the one offering it. You see the life giving impact and know you are responsible; you experience the freedom from bitterness that could steal your own “life”. Grace is also amazing to those who witness it. It motivates us all to live better.
A few years ago I learned first-hand how freeing grace can be. I had been harboring bitterness over a work situation that wasn’t resolving itself. Something woke me up one night, so I started to reread portions of a popular book called The Shack by William P. Young. I was incredibly moved by a comment by “Papa” on page 225. “Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver…to release you from something that will eat you alive, that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly.” Forgiveness is a gift to me? I was missing freedom from bitterness that was available to me all along? I’m afraid that we all do this sometimes.
In the many competitive environments that we each live, there are ample opportunities for hurt and bitterness to set in. Don’t believe the lie – that someone doesn’t deserve our grace. Forgiveness and grace are for your freedom. Offer them freely and see how everyone in your family, community, church or company benefits.
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