Month: January 2014

Grace

Friday December 1, 1995 is blazoned on my mind. The day the police drove up our long driveway and took him away. For questioning they said. It was late into the night before we knew why. Armed robbery. Twice.
The following Monday, Tim and I squeezed onto the back pew of the courtroom. We had Daniel’s lawyer’s instructions. Go forward when his name is called. Tell the judge you’ve hired counsel and you’d like a continuance.
So we waited. I prayed there’d be no handcuffs.
Daniel’s case was called last. The side door opened. He stepped into the courtroom, hands and legs free. I hurt, not for what he’d done to us, but for what he’d done to himself. For this pain he’d feel for the rest of his life. The judgment other’s would pour on him for this foolish mistake.
Deep in my soul I heard that whisper, the quiet voice of the Spirit. “That’s how I feel when you sin.”
Without shame, we made it to the front. Two broken parents signing in as present. Standing up for their sinner son. “Yes, yes Judge, he’s ours. I know what you think, but we love him. And yes, we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to help him set this right.”
As we spoke, I saw a flogging, an innocent man, and a cross.
Back at home my mind wandered. Fears erupted. I prayed the mattress would swallow me whole.
I thought we’d done our best. Read all the popular books. Gone to church; sent him to private school.
But what if he get’s raped? What if he’s beaten? What if he’s sentenced to life?
For days I tossed and turned. Fear gripped my every move.
And then I remembered God’s grace. And how it had carried me. And even if my worst fears came true, God’s grace would see Daniel through.
After all, it was never my job to save him. To control his every move. Or force him to follow Jesus. If I could, what would be the point of the cross?

So I surrendered all.

Eighteen years later, he’s a husband and a father. A college graduate on his own journey with Christ. He’s creative and strong. Passionate and caring. And he’s a blessing to me, and a reminder to many, of God’s abundant grace.
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For My Friend Suzanne

I watched from afar. We shared this journey. Me first than you. We cared for our husband’s during long illnesses. We watched as they entered glory.
Tim and John met once. Do you remember? I was working in Salisbury opening a new store. Tim brought the Harley up and we rode out to your beach house. I believe it was a divine meeting. The start of an eternal friendship.
You are now where I was nearly three years ago. Beginning to learn how to live without the husband of your youth. But like Tim, John left you a gift. A profound understanding of God’s love. An understanding I find difficult to explain to others.
So many people ask where God is in suffering. But those of us close to men like John and Tim saw Him. We saw Him in the way these men rose above their affliction. The way their lives became enmeshed with God. In their suffering, they embraced Him. And God became so real to them and those of us watching.

Where is God in the suffering? I love Philp Yancy’s explanation in his new book The Question That Never Goes Away:
From Jesus I learn that God is on the side of the sufferer. God entered the drama of human history as one of its characters…in a most intimate and vulnerable way… We are right to protest against violence and injustice, and right even to call God to account…We cry out for God to do something for us, whereas God prefers to work within and alongside us… God has chosen to respond to the human predicament not by waving a magic wand…but by absorbing it in person…From Jesus I learn that God is on the side of the sufferer…
I wish I could take away your suffering. The path you’re on is so familiar to me.

But since I can’t, I’ll choose to be on the side of your suffering. To enter into your pain. To hold onto it and share it because I long to be like Jesus. To be vulnerable in the most intimate way.