Saturday, July 6, 2013

Living with Grace

           "He was a struggling salesman, rising early each morning to go from one proverbial closed door to another, attempting to sell a variety of products made by the company he worked for. The days were long and exhausting, and he often had little to show for his efforts- certainly not from lack of trying, just from lack of takers.
           His young, redheaded wife had been only eighteen when they married. And as their family grew, she spent the better part of each day trying to figure out how to make their small living quarters an enjoyable, satisfactory space, given the difficulties of their financial strain. Yet the day came when the strain turned into the kind that can make a girl want to give up- when she went to flip a light switch, and no lights came on. Thinking it was only a mishap in the electrical system, she went to another light source. Again, nothing. Another, nothing. Throughout the house she flipped switches- nothing- confirming what she already knew but didn't want to believe. Their electricity bill hadn't been paid.
            Worse yet, it couldn't be.
            So for the remainder of the day, she did the best she could to take care of her household responsibilities. Even as the lengthening shadows of late afternoon slowly shrouded the kitchen in dim light, she prepared a makeshift dinner, then set it out with care and dignity on their darkened dining room table. A flashlight search uncovered some half-used candles, which she lit to create an elaborate place setting. The scene was gorgeous.
            When her husband arrived, tired and road weary, he found the children seated at the table, smiling and waiting to have dinner with him. They enjoyed their candlelit meal. Had good conversation together. The children especially loved the unique touch of candles at dinner. Thought it was fun. Their home was full of peace and serenity despite the circumstances- circumstances the children didn't even know about.
             Neither did her husband.
             He went straight from the table and collapsed exhausted into bed, beside which she'd lit more candles. She never said a word. It wasn't until the next day, when he arose to get ready for work, that he realized there were no lights. Putting the mental pieces together, he realized what his wife had done- how she'd preserved his dignity, how she'd opted for peace and beauty rather than friction and discord in response to the inconvenience.
             He walked past the bed one more time on his way out the door that morning, just long enough to brush the red wisps of hair from her cheek and whisper, "Thank you" into her ear. Whether she heard or not, he didn't know. But he was too grateful to let the opportunity pass him by. Grateful to be sharing a ome- sharing a life- with a woman committed to being gracious, promoting peace, overlooking shortcomings, providing an environment in which her family could flourish, even when living in less than desirable circumstances.
            And at their fiftieth wedding anniversary, adult children and grandchildren standing at their side, this was the moment he recounted when asked to share his favorite memory from their life together.
            This is the picture of a woman living with grace. 

Had this story been written about my reaction to a similar hypothetical situation that could have happened to me, after the line "And worse yet, {the bill} couldn't {be paid}," you would be reading about how the wife {myself} quickly called her husband at work to complain then raced to her parent's house to sit underneath their working lights. I know this about myself and have set out to change my reactions. According to my husband, "I love hard, and I fight even harder." He admires that in me. It is usually a character trait that God can use for His glory when I put myself aside.

This story should have an impact on every woman- single or married. It shows a modern day example of God's grace. We are no longer under a law that makes us feel shameful and lacking the ability to ever be good enough to earn our salvation. God sent His Son, Jesus. As Priscilla Shirer put it in her book The Resolution for Women, 
"By meeting all the requirements of the law in Himself, 
Jesus ensured that our hope and salvation 
were no longer dependent on the way we tried to meet them. 
Instead of constantly working for His approval, we were just granted it. 
By simply believing  in Him. Having faith in Him. Accepting His gift." 

At this point, you could be thinking, "No one would realize the sacrifice I made in my attitude to show someone else grace." I am going to tell you the cliche response that God knows your heart in every situation. But, think about this redheaded wife again. Do you think that she woke up that morning thinking, "Today is the day that I will show grace to my hardworking husband! I will show grace to my children so that they will behave well and be full of happiness!" I highly doubt it. I presume that the wife was someone who we might call "prayed up". She had it together with God before she flipped on that light switch without a dramatic response of electricity flooding her home. She was able to trust God, show grace to her family, and go about her day because of the memories she had of God showing her grace. If she had looked and recounted the times her husband or children had showed her grace and whether or not they deserved the same treatment in return, then I bet even her story would have been told differently of that day. Maybe she had to constantly recall this scripture from Matther 11 vs. 28-29

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I  will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

There is nothing that reminds me more of how much grace God has shown me
 than to remember our wedding day. 

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