Sure was a fine morning in church, even though I kept noticing our twenty-one-year-old’s head bobbing and was that a drip of drool I saw there? Didn’t I raise him better?
And there it goes . . .
One defeating thought swiftly digresses into more as Pastor Todd’s voice fades, muffled by sermon-snatching internal dialogue.
If you had done things better, maybe that boy of yours would’ve been among those returning from the El Salvador mission trip last night, on Holy fire this morning instead of exhibiting primitive startle reflexes at every pulpit inflection or neighboring body shuffle.
And what about the other son, your twenty-four-year-old whose probably also nodding off at his girlfriend’s church right about now. Yeah, you could’ve done a better job with him too.
And that sweet Hope Girl singing Our God is an Awesome God at the top of her lungs on the way home from grocery shopping the other day? Well, you just wait, she’s only nine. Give her a few more years and every past sin you ever committed is coming down with a vengeance!
Uh huh—Past sin. Past failure. Past stupidity. And to think your kids would turn out alright! Come on, are you really that gullible?
“Some of us need to be reminded of just how sweet the grace of God is,” the pastor’s words interject abruptly.
What was that? I dismiss the heart distraction and tune in to the man now.
He’s talking about Saul turned Paul.
Husband had taught about this name-changed character in our Life-group class right before “big” church. Talked about how that one man Saul was out to destroy the entire Christian population, how he ruthlessly authorized and witnessed the first recorded Christian martyr and how he’d been approved by the high priests to go to Damascus, hunt down all “The Way” people, and drag them back for persecution, imprisonment, and possible death.
“This wasn’t some Pee Wee Herman here,” Husband puts it. “This was a modern day Christian-killing ISIS jihadists!” He was one sinful man. Full of stupidity. Full of failure. Full of himself.
“Saving grace reveals our need for Jesus,” Pastor Todd continues.
I look to my right and clear my throat to wake the boy. He twitches.
I turn back to the platform and hear it again—Grace. Grace. Grace.
His Grace comes looking for us no matter what we’ve done.
No matter who we’ve hurt (or who’s hurt us).
No matter how foolish we’ve been.
And that’s exactly what happened to Saul: He was looking for a fight. Jesus came to shine some light!
Husband makes the whole class bust out laughing when he says, “Yeah, Saul just thinks he’s cool. Until Jesus shows up and knocks the lights right out of him. Literally!”
I sit here grinning just thinking about that statement because he’s got this point:
Jesus’s Light is so bright Saul in all his machoism has no choice but to fall to the ground. (Or “Hit the dirt,” Husband translates. Don’t you just love the dramatics.)
Saul is completely blinded for three days (lights out), during which time he’s visited by the Savior and given a new name, and after which he is completely transformed from Persecuting Saul to Apostle Paul, the greatest missionary ever to walk the planet, responsible for almost two-thirds of the New Testament!
College Boy readjusts and closes the gaping mouth. I glance around to see whose looking. Good thing we sat in the back this time.
“There’s nothing more liberating that when the saving grace of God reveals to you: You have nothing but Jesus has everything.”
Grace, Pastor emphasizes.
Grace, I tell myself.
Grace is what holds my children’s hearts, not what I’ve done or haven’t done. Not how wonderfully or poorly I’ve parented. Not my successes or failures. It’s quite a chip on the shoulder to think I’d determine the union or dis-union of their spirits with His, right? To think I hold that type of power—that my deeds somehow decide who His grace will pour out on and who it won’t.
It is God’s Grace that works His will through sons and daughters, not whether or not Mama (or Daddy) followed the rules.
It is God’s Grace that’ll draw them near to His heart despite their drooling. That’ll meet them on their road to Damascus. That’ll deposit love right into their deepest, darkest, soon-to- be dependent places.
God’s Grace alone does all this. And fortunately, it’s this same grace that lets me off the hook. That tells me I don’t have to shoulder the weight when they take naps, when it seems they haven’t quite got this Jesus thing figured out yet.
Come to think of it— I should know, oh drooling, sleeping Daughter me! The gal who didn’t just nap but pretty much hibernated! For years!
Hadn't He met me right there in my Damascan cave?
The band begins playing.
The boy wakes and stands to his feet unaware there’s this Grace-filled peace rising with the song, rising up in me with whispered prayers of grace-filled gratitude—yeah, grace-filled trust.
All because of a God who’s full of unending, unwavering Grace.
- Made for Something More
- The Branch and The Vine