I’ve been learning a good deal about grace lately, except from the other side. I’m the one who’s granting the grace; my daughter is the one who is receiving it.
We’re in the final stretch of her senior year in high school and for those who’ve been through it, you know how hectic and trying it is. Tonight is prom, and last night, my daughter came up to me and said, “Can you dye my hair tomorrow?” She’s coming home from school at 10:30 a.m., and then the beautification process begins. She fully expects me to cater to her all day until she leaves in the early evening.
After she asked me to dye her hair, she came back into my room as I was working on something for my client, and said, “Do you realize that I have to have everything into West Point in 3 days? Have you gotten it all done?” Interesting that this would come from a kid who’s supposed to be handling the very complicated West Point process, involving many forms, on her own. She’s supposed to be “owning” her future. She has come to expect me to handle it all, and get it all done on time, because, “Mom, I have no time! I’m going to school and going to softball practice, and then coaching a Little League team…”
And then this morning, she was talking about her favorite subject: her younger sister’s faults. As her mother, I can clearly see my oldest daughter’s faults, but she is quite sure that she is a much better, kinder and smarter person.
Wow. So this is what God sees of us…petulant children who expect God to run to and fro and keep all the balls in the air; to give us everything we want when we want it; to do things on our schedule according to our will. He’s our Father so He should cushion our life for us and run ahead and open every door so we don’t even have to hesitate mid-step, right? And when things don’t happen according to our plans, we get frustrated. Angry even. “Why, God? Why won’t you do this for me right now?” we scream toward the heavens. And we have no idea how much we begin to resemble a spoiled child.
I think that sometimes a little too much grace makes for a very ugly character. And that is why God sometimes allows adversity into our lives, so we can appreciate grace when we receive it. If we get too used to being “princesses,” we come to expect grace instead of being grateful to Him when He grants it.
I found a wonderful story about adversity in a very unlikely place recently…on the wrapper of a loaf of bread. The bread is called “Dave’s Killer Bread” (and it’s great bread, by the way), and here is his story on the wrapper:
I was a four-time loser before I realized I was in the wrong game. 15 years in prison is a pretty tough way to find oneself, but I have no regrets. This time around, I took advantage of all those long and lonely days by practicing my guitar, exercising, and getting to know myself–without drugs. To my utter amazement, I started liking what I was seeing. It’s been said adversity introduces a man to himself and I found this to be true. If I had not suffered, I can safely assure you that you would not be reading the label on a loaf of my killer bread. A whole lot of suffering has transformed an ex-con into an honest man who is doing his best to make the world a better place…one loaf of bread at a time.
“A whole lot of suffering has transformed an ex-con into an honest man…” God allows suffering and adversity into our lives to hone and shape us, and to transform us; to make us into what He intends us to be–beautiful, kind, productive, successful people. Had Dave not gone through the suffering, he might still be using drugs and doing nothing with his life. But now he’s selling awesome bread in a large chain of grocery stores and getting his message out.
God’s grace in our lives should be met with amazed gratitude. He puts up with an awful lot from us, and keeps granting us blessing upon blessing, even though we don’t deserve it. Not at all. And when God allows adversity into our lives, or makes us wait for answers to prayer, we should respond with equal gratitude, because He is doing what every loving Father would: transforming us into good, kind, productive people who, like Dave, are “doing our best to make the world a better place.” This is what God wants of us, and this is what the world so desperately needs.