Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Extend The Branch Of Grace

Have you ever dodged someone at the grocery store? It happens doesn't it? A few months back my son and I were walking down an aisle, coming closer the the check out. We had grabbed all our items and we were focused on having lunch. I look ahead and there is a woman and her daughter coming toward us. I see her look at me and before I knew it, they turned down an aisle faster than you can say, "Oh no she didn't". Oh, yes she did. I walked along side my son and he says, "Mom, did she just do what I think she did?" I'm not even sure I replied at the moment. I just shook my head in unbelief. The saddest part is that we are members of the same church. I think that's the part that really threw me for a loop.

I mean, we don't have to like everyone. I get that. I really do. But being rude and avoiding someone just so you don't have to say, hello, is just..well, wrong. That put a funk in my day. I found myself with a bad attitude. My son was feeling my attitude. For the rest of the day I questioned myself. What's wrong with me? Am I not good enough? Did I do something to offend her? Why would it be so terribly difficult to just look at me and my son and simply say, hello? I felt unwanted and unloved. I took that moment and it created a day that was no longer fun. I just wanted to go home.

Can I just say, hurt people, hurt people. When something is off in our life we often take it out on others without even thinking about. Grace. Sweet, sweet grace. I was ready to extend grace. But sadly, this wasn't the only time. It later happened again. This person walked right in front of me and turned her back to me as she spoke to others. There may have been a foot in between us, but for me it felt more like a few miles. I felt disconnected. Here I was again wondering what in the world was wrong with me. Has this ever happened to you? Praise Jesus, He can fill that gap with grace. He can cover the ground that seems to seperate us.

It's in these moments I go to Jesus with my brokenness and say, "Jesus, you don't know how this woman makes me feel. You don't understand what she has done to me." I hear the words of my Savior as though He is right here next to me. "Yes, daughter, I do understand. More than you know, I understand how you feel at this moment."

It hits me. She could have been having a bad day. Someone could have put the yuck in her day and now she is placing that yuck on me. I have no idea why she would turn from me and not choose to speak, but you know what? This is where grace comes in and makes a difference. It covers the distance between us. It gives way for Jesus to do His mighty work. We not only ask for grace daily, but we extend it to everyone we meet.

I can tell you that I'm praying about this situation. I could make a choice to personally go to this woman. I could pray for this woman. I could totally forget it and let it go. What would you do? Would you just decide that it's no big deal? Maybe reach out to her the next time I see her?  I need to totally make an effort to extend grace to her and simply say, hello. There could be something here that has me unaware. With us humans there is no amount of wondering that can bring about peace. It must be an active effort. Maybe the Lord has given me this time to pray so when that time comes I will be prepared.

It's not easy, is it? But then, friends, when we focus on our Savior, we see Him filled with grace overflowing. We are to extend the branch of grace just as our Savior extends His unyielding love for us. When we extend the branch of grace it gives that other person room to feel comfortable. It eases their burden and it doesn't have thorns of shame but blossoms of acceptance. We don't have to accept ones behavior, but we do accept the person in grace.

Next time we find ourselves in the shopping mall and we see a woman we don't really like, don't duck and hide. Extend the branch of grace. I don't think those meetings are just of chance, but are opportunities to see God do something big.


"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."
Philippians 4:8






Dear Heavenly Father, help me to extend the branch of grace to all that cross my path. Whether they are friend or foe, may I focus on You and Your love and see this person with the same grace and love You extend to me. May I give You the opportunity to make a difference in every situation. I know there are no chance meetings. You tend to place those that we struggle with in our path for reasons we are unable to see until we shift our focus to You. Thank You, Lord, for giving me grace. Your sweet, sweet grace.
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