"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God..."
Do you understand what grace is?
I don't really think I do.
By all means, I should know...
as well, or even more-so, than most.
Through the eternal mercy of a loving Heavenly Father,
I was raised in a Christian family,
by two precious, blood-washed, Godly parents,
around a family altar.
Furthermore, the very first song I ever remember singing was "Amazing Grace."
I was three years old, but I remember it like it was last week.
Back then, we didn't have to wear seat belts,
so my favorite way to ride was with my little elbows propped up on the back of the front seat,
between Mom and Dad.
I remember how safe I felt, as we drove along, and Mom and Dad sang "Amazing Grace".
It wasn't long until I began to chime in with my two-cents' worth.
How I did it, I don't know,
but according to Mom and Dad, my little voice was belting out perfectly-on-pitch tenor.
I don't know how perfectly-on-pitch it has been, but I've been singing ever since.
Singing those old-time hymns will always be one of my favorite things to do.
So, since I was raised in a God-honoring, God-worshiping home,
and since we went to church three times a week for most of my growing-up years,
wouldn't you think I would know the meaning of grace?
I think it is somewhat absurd that I don't know.
How many times have I sang about it, heard it preached, read about it in God's Word,
and had it pounded into my head over the past 48 years?
I must be a really slow learner, because somehow the light bulb is just NOW starting to come on.
I've been seeking after God with all my heart.
I can honestly say that there has never been another time in my life
in which I have been more serious or diligent in my pursuit of Him.
This journey has led me down some pretty rough roads,
but how else could one ever hope to find Him?
Jesus' life was beyond difficult while on earth,
and if we would follow Him,
we are going to have to imitate His steps of denying ourselves and taking up our cross.
In my quest to know Him, I have often talked to Him about grace
and how I don't really understand it and how it is hard for me to wrap my mind around
the fact that it could ever possibly apply to me.
I just don't feel worthy.
It is easy for me to tell others of God's grace.
It comes so naturally for me to speak words of comfort to those who need it.
I speak with conviction, because I believe with all my heart that it is real,
and that it is available to all who come to Him.
So, why the disbelief when it comes to my own need for grace?
As I continue to seek God to reveal Himself to me and to show me what grace is all about,
He is blessing me with some pretty amazing demonstrations,
and with each one of these, the light bulb is growing just a bit more luminous.
Yesterday, Kevin, Zach, and I had some errands to run.
I went out of the house first, and I remember placing my water mug on top of the car,
then reaching in and tossing my purse and a handful of individually-wrapped prunes
(yes, I said prunes!...don't ask!),
on the seat of the car.
I walked to open the gate at the end of our driveway,
walked back, picked up my water mug and placed it in the console drink holder between the two front seats, got in the driver's seat, and proceeded to back the car out of the driveway.
I waited for Kevin and Zach, and soon they had joined me,
we had bowed our heads and prayed our routine before-we-leave-home prayer,
and were on our way down the street.
We had driven, oh, say maybe a mile and a half, when we heard a series of thumps.
They seemed to come from the top of the car,
then make a procession down the back of the car towards the trunk.
"What was that?" we asked each other in unison.
None of us could explain it.
I thought maybe something had fallen from a tree above the car,
but when I looked back in the mirror towards the road behind us,
I didn't see anything.
There was a car following closely behind us,
and I figured if it had been anything too major,
they surely would have waved us down to get our attention.
So, on, we traveled.
We drove, oh, I would say another 3-4 miles,
when it occurred to me that Kevin's mom had called and left a message earlier,
and none of us had taken the time to call her back.
I mentioned it to Kevin, and he reached towards his pocket for his cell phone.
I heard him take in a deep breath....one of alarm.
All at once, it hit us all.
Right at the same instant.
The cell phone was not in his pocket.
He grabbed my purse.
The cell phone was not in my purse.
He looked around the car, then picked up the trac phone that I carry in my purse
and called his cell phone number.
The phone was obviously not in the car.
All of us remembered that as I had walked out the door ahead of Kevin and Zach,
I had told Kevin I would pick up his phone off the counter and bring it out for him.
"Do you think you put it on top of the car?"
Kevin gently asked.
"I don't think so", I answered.
Panic washed over me as I realized Kevin's phone and our car are exactly the same color.
Black as night.
A sickening realization dawned on me that had I put the cell phone on top of the car,
then reached for my water mug,
I more than likely wouldn't even have noticed the phone still sitting there.
I started to cry.
Now, before you judge me and my weak emotional state,
let me explain something.
Kevin's phone is not really Kevin's phone.
It was provided to him by his employer so they would be able to get a hold of him at all times.
This is not a cheap phone, trust me.
It is far beyond anything we would ever purchase on our own for ourselves.
They spare no expense and provide the best.
I can't say enough good about the company Kevin works for.
There were so many things going through my mind, in that instant...
things like how gracious they have been to us,
how they have allowed us unlimited usage of the phone even for personal use,
how they entrusted it to Kevin,
how he needs it in order for them to reach him....
all of that was weighing on me.
But, do you want to hear the thing that was upsetting me the most?
The thought that trumped all others was how much this would embarrass Kevin.
It wasn't even his fault.
I kept thinking how he would have to call his boss and explain my stupidity.
How bad it would make him feel.
How they might even make us pay for the replacement.
So, what did I do?
I began to call on the dear Lord.
I mean, I was doing some serious praying,
as we turned that car around and began back-tracking down the road to the spot where we had heard the series of thumps.
Kevin and Zach decided they would get out and walk and look around,
while I drove back home to see if I had even indeed brought the phone.
I seriously worry about my memory sometimes.
I could not even recall whether or not I had, for sure, picked up the phone,
and I sure didn't remember placing it on top of the car.
So, I dropped them off and drove home,
praying pleading with God all the way.
"Lord, I know you knew ahead of time that this would happen.
You knew ahead of time that I would be praying this prayer.
God, PLEASE, rebuke the devourer for me.
I know I don't deserve this.
But, please God, please."
I went on reminding God how we are faithful to pay our tithes and offerings,
and how He promised me in Malachi 3:11 that if we did this that He would,
"rebuke the devourer for our sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground..."
I have claimed that verse more times than I can even remember,
and I have witnessed GOD coming on the scene and doing just that time after time.
I should write a book.
Maybe, one day, I will, by God's grace.
Anyhow, I pulled into the driveway, put the car in park,
opened the car door, and God spoke.
"Use your trac phone to call the cell phone once more."
I grabbed it off the seat beside me and dialed Kevin's number.
It felt like eternity.
Then, softly, ever so faintly, I heard something....
that familiar ring.
Where was it????
I stepped out of the car, thinking I must have somehow managed to drop it in the ditch
beside our driveway or on the driveway itself.
Then I noticed it seemed to be coming, not from the ground, but from some place higher.
I followed the sound of the ring.
My heart was pounding.
And, as I reached the spot, I figured out the meaning of grace.
My friends, what I am going to tell you next may not mean much to you.
But, I tell you this.
I have never, in my 48 years of life, felt more grace-washed...
than I did in that moment.
The God of the universe had directed that falling phone,
and, by some Divine miracle, He had directed it to fall,
not off the side of the car to crash headlong smashing to bits on the road beside us,
(as would have made the most sense),
but straight down the edge of the top of the car,
to fall hard onto the trunk and land underneath the spoiler,
and then to wedge itself in between the top and bottom of it!
I stood there, at the end of our driveway,
on the edge of our road,
and something happened to me that rarely ever occurs.
I was absolutely speechless.
I couldn't even say thank you.
I felt so many mixed emotions, I could hardly sort them out.
GOD saw me.
He watched me put that phone on the top of the car, right beside my water mug.
Then, He saw me pick up the water mug,
get into the car, and drive off, with the phone still riding on top.
He saw it shake loose and begin to fall.
And God chose to redeem my mistake.
He chose to bestow grace.
the free and unmerited favor of God,
as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
I finally found my voice and began to praise Him from the depths of my soul.
I hurriedly drove back to where Kevin and Zach were still searching...
wishing I had a way to let them know the good news before I got there.
I spotted them afar off and got to them as quick as our 30 mile per hour, small town speed limit would allow, and I pulled the car off the road.
"Just look at what God did!" were the first words out of my mouth.
We all stood there staring at that spoiler.
In total amazement.
Overwhelming gratitude filling our souls.
We got back on our way, and Kevin called his Mom.
The phone worked fine.
No damage at all.
Not even a scratch.
We decided to eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant,
and when we got out, Kevin discovered something else.
He placed the phone under the spoiler.
Then he slid it straight through to the other side.
Then he tried doing the same thing way over on the edge closest to the side.
That was the only spot that created a wedge and would have prevented the phone from falling all the way through to the road behind us.
That is the spot God chose to have that phone land.
Because God's grace is abundant.
Through our meal, I couldn't keep from crying.
Not sad tears, but tears of joy.
Tears of thankfulness.
Tears of worship.
"I wish I could go somewhere and just fall on my knees!"
I told Kevin and Zach.
It was amazing.
It was grace.
As we talked, Zach revealed something else to me.
In his intense search for the phone, he hadn't been watching the road
and had nearly been hit by a car, as Kevin watched from a few feet away!
Oh, dear Lord!
Mercy extended....to undeserving me.
Thank the dear Lord for His mercy to all of us...
I just have no words, my friends,
to thank Him enough.
I made the mistake.
It was not intentional.
I didn't even realize what I had done.
When I did, I regretted it from the depths of my soul.
I deserved to find a shattered-to-bits phone.
I deserved retribution...for my carelessness...my negligence....my silly, silly oversight.
I did not deserve mercy...compassion...grace.
Free and unmerited favor is the last thing God should have bestowed.
As I pondered this later, He spoke again.
"Child, do you see how grace works?
You have sinned.
You have done wrong.
Not only accidentally, but intentionally.
You have fallen short of My glory.
The punishment for sin is death...
eternal separation from Me.
Yet, I chose to have mercy.
I chose to send My Son to die, in your place,
to make an atonement for the sins you have committed.
I chose to extend grace to you, My dear child.
It makes me cry....again...even now....hours later,
to know that God took care of that phone.
Just for me.
And it makes me love Him ever so much more each day
to know that He loves me enough to cover all of my sins.
Do I deserve it?
Not even a chance.
Does He extend grace anyway?
You better believe it.
God sees us, my friend.
He cares about every, single detail of our lives,
and He loves us with more love than His heart can hold.
That's why He pours it out upon us every day.
He gives us the total opposite of what we deserve.
And that is what grace is all about.
The last time I heard from Shyla, little Ryker was doing much better,
and he was going home!!
Praise God forevermore!
And the last email I got from Terri Presser, she was still waiting to have her surgery.
So, please keep praying, dear friends!