By the Grace

“Don’t grieve your blessings.”  This is something I told a friend several weeks ago following our lengthy discussion of the sorrow seen through the eyes of those of us involved in the welfare of others.  Something as simple as a bite of a bagel brought my friend to the full awareness of how little she allowed herself to enjoy food since feeding the homeless.  It is easy when one works with the forgotten in our society to carry a small measure of guilt about the gifts we have been given, or the benefits we have worked hard for.

After spending many years now in human services and child welfare, I am keenly aware of the good things I have had in life.  Things like a stable home environment where I knew that, no matter what, there would be food on the table, a bed to sleep in, and a mother and father who greeted me each day, are just a small portion of the blessings that touched my childhood.  These are the things that are good, of worth, and that securely shape a child’s life.  These are the things that often go unnoticed when they are present every day; and yet, these are the things that are grieved so much when absent.

I grew up in what I consider a fairly liberal Christian home.  My mother was never one to judge others on the scale of how “Christian” they were.  I learned through her that passing up a homeless person because of “what they might do with the money” is something that I should not do.  Whether or not they are going to spend it on alcohol or whatever vice they cling to, is something that should not prevent giving.  Instead, I learned that the same Father in Heaven watching me is also watching over the dirty, restless person asking for help.

After all, it was not too long ago that I was that dirty, restless person.

Mom also used to say, “But by the grace of God, go I.”  This statement often crosses my mind in so many situations in life.  Sometimes, Christians like myself, forget just how close we may have come to an addiction, an abusive relationship, a life lived in darkness, or one that is painted with tragedy time and again. Sometimes, Christians like myself, forget that it is by GRACE that we have the blessings in life that we have.

My fear, especially during times of hot-button issues and busy seasons of life, is that we do not do a good job of showing others just how intentional our Lord was, and is, and forever will be, in declaring His works through our actions.  I wonder if we are so busy saying we are Christians that we fail to show it through our actions and reactions to others who feel that the God we believe in has forgotten about them.

During this Christmas season that often becomes full of fret over gifts, and hurried schedules, my hope is that we remember Jesus.  We remember His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection.  My hope is that we remember He came to save all of us.  ALL of us.  I also hope that we never fail to remember,

“By the grace of God, go I.”