Monday, August 31, 2009

“The Goodness of Grace”

Texas journalist Browning Ware tells the story of a man who went to have breakfast in a diner somewhere in the south. The man wanted ham and eggs and when his plate arrived he found grits sharing the plate with his order. “What’s this?” he asked his server. “Them’s grits,” the waitress answered. “I didn’t order grits,” he responded. “Mister, you don’t have to order grits. Grits just come.”

Grits, like grace, just comes.

I was going through a difficult time a few years ago. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life, whether I was going to stay in the ministry, how I was going to get through the struggle in which I found myself. A couple of times I sat in my car near an exit on Interstate 40 and considered just taking the ramp and heading west, driving until I ran out of gas. In the midst of this dark night of the soul, I spoke with a dear friend. She knew of my trouble as I had already confessed to her on a few occasions my sense of utter loss. After spilling my sorrow to her during this particular phone call, I hesitated. And she said the words that seemed to ease me just enough to find hope, to feel hopeful. “You know, we don’t have a lot of extra room here; but you can always stay with us if you need to.”

Grits, like grace, just comes.

It seems that we spend a lot of our time complaining about how things never work out the way we want them too. And it’s true that life rarely turns out like we expect. Disappointments, sorrow, trouble, betrayal, all these events and the consequences of them can keep us burdened. And yet, at least in my life, there have always been moments of grace, moments when the right words get said or when the right act of kindness comes my way, moments when the sun peeks through a sky filled with clouds or a flower blooms in the least likely place. And when these moments come, it’s as if the sky opens and great drops of mercy fall upon my head. It’s as if I get something that I didn’t even know how to order.

I can’t say that I fully understand the ways of God or how it is that someone can come along with just the right thing I need to hear or see or experience; but I do know that if I hold on long enough or even if I find myself having to let go, grace, like the grits my grandmother used to put on every breakfast plate she served, always comes.

Winter, with her long shadows and her gray mornings, her barrenness and her refusal to offer warmth, cannot last always. Do not give up on spring. Do not give up on mercy. Believe even in what you cannot see. Grace, like grits, will come.

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