When In Doubt…

Extend Grace.

I’ve been saying it, and attempting to live it my whole life.

When I go through the drive thru and they scowl at me like they’d like to hack me into tiny pieces and it takes thirty minutes to get my incorrect but completed order… I let my mind consider some of the possibilities. What if the whole world doesn’t ACTUALLY revolve around me? What if this fine establishment and its management are over worked, under paid and short staffed today? What if Nancy the drive thru worker just got another call from the school… or the hospital? What if the ink is still wet on the divorce papers or the ever pressing sadness sitting on her chest is swallowing her whole and it’s all that she can do to just get out of bed? And supposing any one of those possibilities were more than just a possibility and I were the only face of Jesus she were going to see today… what would I want it to look and sound like? When in doubt, extend grace. Sow grace.

The thing is: I’m just a human. We’re all just humans. Flesh and blood. Still in process. That work that Jesus began in me, he’s still perfecting it. The grace I sow, I hope to reap. There may be a day that I go through that very same drive thru and I hope that when they see me, impatient and tired, they think- maybe she’s sick, and she only has a few minutes to eat and sleep before she has to be at it again. Maybe she doesn’t feel like she has the strength to do it today. When in doubt, extend grace.

I’ll never forget the day, I sat on my couch crying out, soul laid bare asking the Lord “How?” “How, will I ever do the work that you’ve called me to do, living in this body?” And he said the strangest thing… He said to lay down the baseball bat. I scanned the room. (I’m a very literal gal) No baseball bat in sight. The one you use on yourself, he continued. The one you use to beat yourself up when you don’t meet your own expectations. Extend grace. Extend grace to yourself the way you would to someone else in your situation. I had never felt more naked or busted in my entire life. But also, one word stuck out to me: YOUR, when you don’t meet YOUR expectations. These weren’t his expectations I was failing to meet, they were my own. When in doubt, extend grace…even to yourself.

There’s no greater love or grace we can offer to someone, ourselves included than when we’ve let the ugly show. But that’s the wonder of the cross, which meets us right smack in the midst of those nasty face, least deserving places, that races ahead of us filling in gaps before we can create them. What kind of love is this? What kind of God is this?

“Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 5:8

When in doubt, I vote we extend grace, even to ourselves. Check yes or no?

Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

My junior year of high school I had the high honor of being office aid during first period. Proudly carrying a pass that signaled freedom to one lucky student, I would stealthily enter classroom after classroom, thirty greedy eyes fixed on me silently willing me to choose them. It was a powerful and fulfilling position. But as the day progressed and the tables turned, I was far less noble than all of you, who I am sure rejoiced for the newfound, hard-earned freedom of your friends. I, on the other hand, barely made the effort to resist the urge to trip my friends on their way out the door as they giddily gathered up their things and checked out early. I never passed up the opportunity to mouth,

“You jerk”.

Until my brother got checked out early. I knew that he truly deserved it. My heart rejoiced for him. It took me a while to understand, to realize that the cancer hadn’t won– that when we serve Jesus, sickness and death never win. It took a while to realize that he was just being the overachiever he always was. That he had finished up his work early, and got to check out early. It took a while to realize that while my heart was broken, he was having the time of his life, shooting hoops with Jesus and playing drums on heaven’s praise and worship team.

One thing I have learned: sickness and death NEVER win, because at their absolute worst all they can do is push me into the arms of my Savior, the only thing that was ever truly worth living for.

I have often heard it said: NO PAIN, NO GAIN. Many of us do not mind a little pain if it shapes our bodies into an image that is more pleasing to the mirror, or into a more accomplished athlete. So why do we mind the pain that transforms us into the image of Christ upon this Earth? Now please hear me, (and resist the urge to get your theological panties in a bunch) I am not saying Jesus makes us sick. Clearly, that is the devil’s domain. What I am saying is that Jesus can and will work all, all, all things together for our good and his glory if we will allow him to. Do I particularly enjoy the days that I wake up in such pain that tears streak my face and a slight tremble begins? No. But I enjoy that it pushes me closer still to the heart of my savior. The book of James tell us to rejoice in tribulation because of what it produces in our lives.

SO check this out: On my healthy days, I’m winning. On my sick days. I’m winning. Because of Jesus- all I can do is win. Like the apostle Paul, if I live, I win. If I die, I win. The funny thing about winning is that it often doesn’t feel like winning until we cross the finish line, even though we’ve been winning all along. With each seemingly never-ending step of thrusting our bodies forward, of running our race, of moving towards the finish line, towards the prize of Jesus, we’ve been winning. Even though the winning might have felt more like slowly dying. So I ask you death, where is thy sting?