What does grace look like?
I thought I knew. Until I was thirty-five years old, I enjoyed a charmed life. I didn’t have to look for blessings in disguise; my blessings paraded themselves boldly.
Trials were light and few. Favors fell heavily and bountifully.
I knew I was undeserving of this grace.
I was thankful. But it felt unfair. I saw people all around me experiencing trials, many of whom were walking through multiple fires at one time while I remained completely untouched. I didn’t know why.
It also felt scary. Jesus said that in this world His followers would have tribulation (John 16:33). At some time or other as we walk this sin-sick planet, everyone will have trials. Where were mine?
What were they going to look like?
How would I handle them?
How painful would they be, exactly?
I knew my turn was coming. I just didn’t know when. And I felt like I was deserving of an extra dose or two because of my unscathed life. When that proverbial “other shoe dropped,” I was certain it would appear in the form of a steel-toed workboot or a 5-inch stiletto.
It was at this time that God began to work in my heart and my husband’s about foster care. We recognized that we weren’t meant to clutch God’s blessings with clinging fists; rather, He wanted us to hold open hands under the fount and allow the overflow to spill onto others in need.
We took the foster care training classes, and even bought a larger home with more space for extra little people. We kept our cell phones with us around the clock, eagerly anticipating the call from social services telling us that children were on their way.
But a different call did – the one telling us my husband had cancer.
Not only that, but within just a few months, he also lost his job.
We found ourselves shaking our heads, throwing up our hands, and asking each other, “What is happening? Why are we facing these trials now, when we’re following hard after what God has called us to do?”
We were at a stopping point, biding time in God’s waiting room.
What we didn’t know at that time was that a family on the other side of town – one we had never met – was falling apart. Jobless. Homeless. A marriage crumbling, as good as dead. Parents who loved their children but found themselves unable to care for them properly because of their own complex issues.
They were at their breaking point, completely unaware that God was pursuing them relentlessly.
Until one fateful day when God called my family out of the waiting room to meet our divine appointment. Our world collided with the one across town, and suddenly, three little boys filled the empty beds in our home and burrowed their way into our hearts.
Is it possible to welcome three little strangers into one’s home and not learn something? Weighty things like love and loss and grace that calls us and more grace that equips us.
Grace that means God walks tenderly with one family through the most intense trials of their lives at the same time He’s chasing down a family that has rejected Him at every turn.
I don’t know the end of our story yet. But I do know there’s a man across town whose three little boys are back in his home where they belong. That man didn’t know God two years ago. But now he does.
He and his wife weren’t part of a church two years ago. But now they are.
The man’s mother wasn’t a believer two years ago. But because of her son’s testimony, now she is.
And what about those three little boys who entered our home having never prayed before? Well, now they do.
As evidenced by the seven-year-old’s lunchtime prayer on his last day with us: “Dear God, thank you for this food. And thank you that we get to go back and live with Daddy and Mommy today, and for everything You’ve done for them. Amen.”
What does grace look like?
Sometimes we see it in blessings abounding.
Other times, grace appears in God’s waiting room.
It can even come wrapped in a package of cancer or job loss.
Grace looks like a divine appointment. A divine calling. Divine equipping.
And it looks like a God who pursues people through it all.