If grace was matter, a substance to be measured, tallied, considered in a debate about comparables, how much would you say your cup would contain, how substantial would be the grace you’ve been shown?
I woke before light and stayed still until I saw the light coming across the hall, narrow slats on the carpet from the room with the silver tree.
I remembered the homeless one.
Three times I’ve now seen him, he finds spots to retreat in the woods near the abandoned mall. He looks to be mid-twenties, thin but not starving.
I first saw him camped in a shady spot. I shopped at Target then drove back to give him $5. I hurried my window down and sort of frantically thrust the money towards him. He said thanks and I drove away. I don’t know why I was scared of him or being harmed.
Then I saw him leaving all his bags in front of Target and dart inside and I worried someone might just take all his stuff and I wondered if he was worried. When I was done shopping, he and his stuff were gone.
I don’t know his story. I just want him to know what I know about grace.
It was 22 degrees in Carolina this morning.
I remembered the homeless one.
The third time I saw him, I had a back seat full of groceries and one last shopping stop. He was standing at the intersection, cardboard marked with a scrawl, “homeless”.
I looked his way, smiled that smile of mine that says worry, accompanies an inaudible moan.
I paid for my art supplies with cash and added a Hershey bar with almonds, wrapped in cash, $10 and headed back to the homeless man.
This time, I paused. I let the window all the way down. I gave him the candy bar and money, suggested he eat something good.
I looked at his eyes, he at mine.
And I told him strongly as if I was telling a long held secret to someone before you’re not sure of ever seeing them again.
God loves you.
And a second or two transpired that felt like hours and I repeated myself and added, “no matter what.”
I got the sense that he believed me or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he thought
Well, lady what good is that?!
I don’t know what he thought.
I just know my God is love and if I forget that I also stumble over the immeasurable gift of grace.
I fall into that pit of looking to others to determine my worth, to prove to myself that I’ve done enough and more to be worthy of this abundance of grace I’ve been shown.
Paul talked about this to people who continued to question their rights and their wrongs in an assessment of themselves and others to believe in their righteousness.
They believed and couldn’t fathom not believing it was all up to them to be good enough.
Paul told them he would never waste the death of Jesus by complicating it with his behavior.
“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”
Galatians 2:21 NLT
Grace matters, matters more than any effort we pursue, any accomplishment we know.
It matters more than our falters, our failures and thank goodness it matters so much more than our stubborn and strong or feeble and sad efforts to prove ourselves right enough not to be found wrong.
Here’s a song about such an incomprehensible thing, to know my God is love.
My cup is full.