Posted by: Sally | April 1, 2007

Grace undeserved

Love a man, even in his sin, for that love is a likeness of the divine love and is the summit of love on earth.
Fyodor Dostoevsky

Life in the contemporary is standing against my ability to be mature all the time. Everything is a rush and hurry and then a wait and see. Yesterday, I found myself sinning far too easily. After three attempts to confirm some seats on a plane going overseas, I finally got the auto response to go almost to the point of confirming seats, after thirty minutes of frustration. I did not find it humorous that a very soothing, recorded voice was placed precisely at one point of choosing an arbitrary host of numbers, to comfort me—though I know a machine cannot really feel emotion. “I’m sorry! I didn’t understand you. It must be my fault.”(Can a machine be faulted for making mistakes and can it feel sorry Does it really care for my frustration???)

Finally, a real and very surly woman answered my phone call. I gave her all the right numbers for our ticket and then told her I wanted to be sure to secure seats on our overseas flight, as the seat numbers were deleted from the confirmation I had received on the Internet.

“You cannot secure seats until the morning of the flight. It is company policy that once we book our flight more than 45%, we cannot give out anymore seats. And, by the way, I am the supervisor, and there is no one higher than me that you can talk to!” (Obviously, she had had a difficult day and didn’t even want to have to address the fact that there was no one higher up that I could talk to—and we had only just begun our conversation. Could there have been a hard phone call before she ever got to me?)

“I have never heard of an overseas flight where I couldn’t get my seat assignment. I am traveling with three of my children and would like to sit close together,” I said in my most authoritative voice.

“If your children are over 10, they can obviously sit anywhere on the plane by themselves, and I can’t guarantee that they won’t all be in different rows. You will just have to wait until you get to the gate. Obviously you haven’t traveled very much. It is always done this way.”

I raised to my full-bodied stature at this point, even though she couldn’t see my shock or my rising at such a statement. After all, I had been traveling overseas for over thirty years and had never come across this particular problem or such a definitively closed airline operator.

In a very irrational and immature moment, I asked the woman, “If I call back, is there a good chance I won’t have to talk to you again?!” Well, I had been on the phone a long time and she wasn’t very nice to me and I did have a hard day and……..

Immediately, when I had hung up the phone, remorse set in. The accusatory finger in my mind said, “Well, that was real mature! Bet you made that lady feel real good. I can’t believe you are a serious, committed Christian, and you actually talked to someone like that! The Lord is so disappointed in you. Probably He is eventually going to quit using you in influencing others, because you just keep blowing it!”

I must admit, when my own life is stressful, and I have had a hard day, I want sympathy, kindness, forgiveness, grace. I want someone to understand that I am doing my best and to tell me it is ok. It is what I want from God. It is what I want from my husband. It is what I want from my children.

My heart became open to the Spirit’s prompting. Just happened, my morning reading came across this verse: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Now this much I already knew and agreed with.

But the context of the verse was further explained, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jew or Greek or the church of God. Even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many in order that they may be saved.” I Cor. 10: 31-32

So, I glorify God, not by knowing all the right theological answers, or by keeping a perfect house, or having quiet times every day, but by glorifying God by seeking the good of everyone else–even a stressed out operator.

My sweet children have taught me this. They see through false piety. They know what it means to be fair. They comment on other adults in our lives who speak loudly about piety but whose lives scream loudly of hypocrisy. But, they are also very willing to forgive.

Joy placed her arm around me and sat sweetly in my lap. At almost 12, it is too rare of an occurrence, but oh so cherished. “Mom, we’ll get some seats. Don’t you worry. It always works out.” A kiss on my cheek and then she was gone. Suddenly I saw God’ s glory in an unsuspecting angel in my own home, who chose to give me grace, and then I felt He, the one from whom patience and love was given their meaning had gently restored me to himself.

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Responses

  1. Thank you! For being quite honest about your failings and God’s amazing grace. I never feel you are using grace like some slick, glossy, paint to slap a tidy cover over your sin. Instead, you present a reality of God’s power, love and goodness that cannot help but transform all who recognize Him at work in their lives—in spite of our sin.

    I am committed to being equally honest with my own young children—to try to paint for them the picture of an amazing loser and what an AMAZING GOD can do with that amazing loser when she is willing to surrender to his plan.

    I am a visual learner, so in the absence of a nearby Titus woman, thank you for the many glimpses into your life, into the corners of your home—where you all “scratch up the walls and punch them with holes,” AND where God says, “forget the glossy paint—I’m going to remodel!”

  2. Your honesty is always so refreshing like a new rain. Thank you for being so wide open that others can learn and be inspired to not just receive the grace of others, but also to give it. ~ Dana Bailey ~ http://www.livingstones4moms.com

  3. Have we been living parallel lives?! Not in the travel thing , but in the phone frustration thing! Thank You for this post! and thank you for the reminder of God’s AMAZING Grace! To know that even when I blow it, He still loves me. Praise God! Also, praying for your upcoming trips! ;o)

  4. i hate false piety too…in yet I often don’t see it in myself 🙂 Isn’t Jesus so kind, gentle, and nurturing to us even when we are not to ourselves or to others? If I could just really “get” His love, kindness, and grace…
    on the grace journey with you!

  5. Conviction!!!! Gotta love it. So grateful He has not given up on me either. Wait…. did you say Joy is 12? Wasn’t she just a toddler yesterday? Peace in your travels…


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