Tuesday, July 26, 2011

But by the Grace of God

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain."
~ 1 Corinthians 15:10, NKJV

I lifted the soft, downy coat from the box precariously perched on the top step outside the soup kitchen. It was the color of grandmomma's tea rose blushing in the sun by her porch. I held the coat high, making eye contact with the woman standing near the street. She appeared older than her actual years, her stringy chestnut hair fell about her face attempting to hide her hazel eyes, saddened by life's defeats. She stood wrapped in a thin, tattered blue floral blanket soiled by the city's grime.

I approached her and smiled. Her eyes darted back and forth before settling on the sidewalk at her feet. "Ma'am," I said. "Could you use this coat? It would look beautiful on you with those sweet hazel eyes."

She shuffled her feet, still looking down. "Here, let's try it on," I tried again.

This time she glanced in my direction and reached for the coat. "What's your name?" I asked. "Jenny," she whispered. "My name is Nan," I said. Together we removed the blanket. I held the coat for her and she slipped her arms in. Perfect fit.

I noticed Jenny stood a little taller and brushed the hair from her face. "May I give you a hug?" I asked. With a bit of awkwardness, we embraced. As I moved to release the hug, Jenny held me tighter. "Thank you," she quietly said. I felt the wet warmth of a grateful tear against my cheek. "No, thank you Jenny," I said. "You are very precious to God. Please, let Him love you."

Jenny let me pray with her. I have never forgotten those hazel eyes with flecks of gold. Perhaps the seeds of righteousness planted that day have been reaped for the purpose of eternity. Perhaps her golden flecks will now reflect the streets of gold in the heavenly places.

"But by the grace of God go I," the Apostle Paul said.

But by the grace of God...

The Message says it this way, "But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I'm not about to let His grace go to waste."

Sweet friends, this is the cry of the Master's heart. We cannot, we must not, let His gift of grace go to waste. Brennan Manning, author of the Ragamuffin Gospel, said, "We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer."

God's grace is a gift. We must not let it go to waste. We must share it with a hurting world.

Father, How can we fathom the depth of Your love and grace? How can we tell You how much we love You? You are an amazing God. From the deep recesses of our hearts we say, "Thank You, Lord. We love You. You are our everything."


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