On Sunday afternoon, May 24, 2010, my family received one of those life-altering phone calls. Our niece, a fun-loving, bright and talented teenager was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The benign tumor was successfully removed the following day. But complications, set backs and a mysterious new inflammatory process in her brain have since taken her down a path much different than she ever dreamed of. This summer, after one of our many visits, I realized her journey has also impacted my life and has allowed me to see the GRACE OF GOD in a whole new light.
Before this summer, I understood the grace of God to mean something undeserved, precious and powerful that God gave to someone in an obscure, intangible and supernatural way. It was something a person could not taste, touch, see or smell. Instead, I believed it was simply a knowing, a sense or an awareness that God's favor rested upon you. I could best identify God's grace with the lyrics of John Newton's precious hymn, Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. This song became the anthem of my life after my initial and dramatic encounter with the saving grace of God more than thirty years ago. However, after spending hours with my niece over the past year and a half, I have witnessed that the grace of God is much more than this. It is also visible, tangible and very practical.
During a recent visit, my niece and her mom informed me, "We've decided that you are our very own Mary Poppins," We laughed and decided the only thing I was missing was a talking umbrella. But seriously, I believe what they saw in me, as Mary Poppins and her "spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," is a gift God has given to me. In Ephesians 4:7 it says, But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. Paul then goes on to describe the different GIFTS that God apportions to each of us by his grace. After spending hours with my niece and her family, in and out of hospitals, I began to recognize that God has given me a gift that I often take for granted because it comes naturally. I realize that there is a peace and calm that rises up in me when I am in a difficult situation with people who are sick and suffering. The journey my niece is on has allowed me to use this gift more often. And after walking alongside her on this difficult path, I have become keenly aware that this "ability" I possess is a gift from God and not of my own making.
When my "Mary Poppins" time was up, I packed up my carpet bag and headed home. During the long drive through the desert to San Diego, I meditated on Scriptures I had memorized in the past. I came to I Peter 4:10 which says, Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. Wow, there it was again. Not only are our gifts part of God's grace to us, but we administer God's grace to others when we use our gifts to serve them. For the rest of my drive home, I pondered the promise in God's word that we are able to share God's grace with others when we use our gifts to serve them. And I prayed, that this was what had happened during my time in Phoenix.When I arrived home, I wrote in my journal: Write about God's tangible grace.
The journey my niece began on May, 24, 2010 is one that opened my eyes to see the GRACE OF GOD in a new and fresh way. Now, I understand that it is much more than the undeserved and unseen grace that God extends to us when His favor rests upon us. God's grace is also manifest and evident in the very gifts God has given to each one of us. Gifts we may not even be aware of because they flow so naturally from us. And I learned that God gives us these gifts to serve others, because He wants to reveal His grace in all of its forms to those He longs to love through us.
What are the gifts that God, in His grace, has apportioned to you? What opportunities has He given you to share His grace through your gifts as you serve others? My friend Cyndi posted this message on Facebook soon after my insight about God's tangible grace. It beautifully expresses my heart for this message:In relationships God has a plan for us based on choosing to set aside our own desires and sacrificing them for the other person and in turn God releases His grace into our lives. What can I give to the "others" in my life today? Let Grace flow!!