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 Dostoyevsky

Life in the contemporary is standing against my ability to be mature all the time. The pace of life, the interruptions, the lack of time by myself to become centered, and the constant flow of food and messes are the hardest for me or most stressful for my personality, I must say. Looking back at this post from a few years ago, I see that often the struggle with myself is still pretty much the same. But even as I see the beauty of His hands all around me, and His grace happens every day, so I know His grace for my frail humanity is constant and new every morning. Great is his faithfulness.

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,(now almost 16)  it is too rare of an occurrence, (but she still does sit in my lap on occasion), 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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  1. DeeBert says

    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. Graceriver says

    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)

  3. AIMEE says

    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!

  4. Mihstiegh says

    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…

  5. says

    Oh, I am going through frustrations with my clinic and getting my insulin (that which I have to take five times a day to LIVE). I have to go there today, with a snow storm on the way, and sit in the waiting room until I get a vial of insulin to take home with me.

    The problem was not in the nice clerk who takes care of all of this, it is with the company from which it is ordered and the back load of a clinic which is mostly government run (for uninsured people like me who gets their insulin free).

    Thanks for the post today, I’ll make sure I am nice to everyone and not frustrated. Or, I’ll at lest least leave my JESUS pen at home, hehehe.

    My niece was a customer service agent at a major airline for years. They are taught to be tough with customers, which is a shame. At least you didn’t say “Oh, yes… and Jesus loves you” before you hung up. ;)

  6. says

    Lol! Awwww Sally – it is true that in the hustle and bustle of this crazy fast paced world it is hard to stay calm. I am working hard this winter – to slow down – to create space – space for loving, laughing, reading, music, listening etc. We have to intentionally seek this space or the world just swallows it up!!

    • Sally says

      So true, Courtney! And Brenda, I can only imagine the frustration. Medical tests the best of hearts. Praying for your safety. Love you both.

  7. says

    Oh, this is so good! I am at my grumpiest and most vulnerable when I’m tired–and what mother isn’t usually tired? I realized recently that we are so good at wanting more grace for ourselves than we are willing to give others, like when I desperately need to cut in a lane on the highway, or lose my temper with my kids, and so on. I always expect others to give me grace–but then I don’t want to extend the same to others, especially those I’m not in a relationship with. Thank you for reminding me today to be a grace-giver, not just a grace-receiver.

    Blessings to you in cold, snowy CO today–we’re getting snow in Dallas, and it is so pretty!!

    • says

      Thank you so much… Just today, I went through this, only with my husband… I had to seek forgiveness from God and seek forgiveness from my husband. I was so taken by my own emotions, I was in tears…
      That I could stumble so far, knowing that I follow a God, that loves me unconditionally.
      That I could be so angry, when he wasn’t even the brunt of my anger, it was my car (dumb also) I should have started praying immediately..
      That the devil has worked so hard in my life to keep me from church, and Bible study the last couple of weeks.
      I thank God daily, for the grace He gives me. I know that if it weren’t for His grace, I by myself, would be doomed…

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