Grace /gras/ n 1: unmerited help given to people by God 2: freedom from sin coming through divine grace 3: a virtue coming from God 8:CHARM 9: ATTRACTIVENESS, BEAUTY 11: ease of movement
I had a nasty temper. I mean really ugly, un-controlled, violent anger volcano-ing out of my eyes, mouth and hands at the least provocation, anger that had been a part of my internal make up since childhood. God is worked miraculous victory, changing me from the inside out – but those memories of ugly rage, sinful lashing out, and agonizing feelings still shape the way I see myself. So you can imagine how much it meant to me when a woman named Grace for whom I have great respect- a woman who to me embodies quietness, gentle grace and productivity that is precious in the sight of God, gave me an unexpected mother’s day gift along with an encouraging note. If the weight of a compliment is measured by the character of the giver the words of that note were solid gold, which I shall treasure for the rest of my life. The gift that came along with this blessing of words was a book titled “Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home.” I looked at the book, read the back with much excitement and then stuffed it in my carry-on bag and ran out the door to Hartsfield International Airport. I had a short flight from Atlanta to Detroit, then a layover, then a fourteen hour flight from Detroit home to Seoul. It was a long trip to make alone with three kids, and moving around the airport was especially tricky as we had used our trip back to the states to buy all our summer clothes and were thus hauling seven bags in addition to our pillows pals, souvenirs, and a homemade bow and arrow, but I wasn’t terribly worried. I had done the reverse flight just a few weeks before and the kids were great travelers. So, with a little patience and plenty of digital entertainment I figured we would be fine. But then, the flights were full and we, travelling on standby, didn’t get on. No big deal, this sort of thing happens when we fly stand by. We would just try the next flight- except that flight was full too, and the next, and there were no more flights until the next day and they were already full too. When we didn’t get on the last flight I felt devastated. I was tired and hungry and I wanted to go home to my husband. There were these kids who had already been sitting in an airport for an entire day and were tired of carrying their heavy bags and there were all these people and no one could tell me how I was going to get home. Was it awful? Were we miserable? Was this where my nasty temper took charge with angry growls at the children to sit down and stop complaining? It could have been- for a brief moment it almost was- but then, there was grace. As we sat after that last plane I read the book, my gift of grace from Grace. I read about the gospel, and God’s gift to me, and getting home didn’t seem so desperate any more. God took any frustration or desperation from me and let me enjoy the challenge instead- he freed me from my ugly temper- he gave me grace. Then God gave all three kids great attitudes even though they did enough walking and ruck marching for Dallas to develop raw spots on his shoulders where his backpack straps rubbed him through his t-shirt- God gave us grace. We had no trouble getting a hotel, and even though it was past bedtime, we pulled bathing suits out of our bags and tumbled into the hotel pool- where we soaked in grace. The next day was another entire day spent in the airport. Time and time again fellow passengers complimented the kids on being well behaved, or talked and laughed with us about our adventure. Stressed gate agents stopped and talked to me about their day and did everything they could to make us comfortable. My three kids and I ended up stuck in the Detroit airport for two days. We flew out of Atlanta on Tuesday morning and on Thursday night we flew back to Atlanta to try another route home. Between those times we spent hours sitting in the USO waiting for flights, we traveled up and down the concourse at least six times carrying our entire luggage from gate to gate to gate, and we experienced a glimpse of grace. It was grace- a free gift from God that helped us, that kept me from being slave to my temper, grace that gave us gracious attitudes toward one another. It was grace that attracted people to us and made it easy for us to move through the airport. Because God is gracious, even though we didn’t deserve it, He gave us the ability to move through this adventure with grace. See, grace is like that- it’s the nature of a gift, but it’s also the nature of the giver, and the nature of the work upon the receiver, just like my book, Glimpses of Grace, was a gift from Grace and helped me be graceful during my adventure in Detroit. So, this today, I am saying “thank you Grace, for grace.” And as a side note, I did eventually get home to Seoul- I’m there now writing through a jet legged haze, sitting next to one of my biggest gifts of grace.