The elderly man with kind eyes approached me after a speaking engagement at one of our supporting churches. He explained that he had been convicted to diligently pray for his grandchildren. And then he asked me if I would like him to pray regularly for my children, too.
I was speechless that a stranger would do this. That he would take the time to approach me, encourage me, and commit to praying for my children.
But there's more.
There's the woman in Indiana who only knows me through this blog and sends us money through PayPal to spoil our kids.
There's the large family who lives in a small house but supports our ministry generously, and I think about how they could live in a bigger house if they weren't supporting us.
There's the friend who gave us tickets to the Long Beach Aquarium, with specific instructions that we were to go only with our kids, so that we would have time together "just us."
I could go on. Those are just a few examples.
I am one who is lavished with grace. And I feel so utterly unworthy of it.
This home assignment has been hard for me. To be honest, it's been harder than any of the other times we've visited home. I'm not exactly sure why, because everything has gone relatively smoothly, and as you have seen in my pictures, we've created lots of wonderful memories. Maybe it's because I've put down too many roots in Tanzania and it gets harder for me to adjust to America as time goes on. Or maybe because living out of a suitcase for four months with four kids is a lot harder than when we just had two kids.
But whatever the reason, it brought out ugliness in me that I am ashamed of. I've been grumpy and irritable a lot of the time. I've let anxiety get the best of me way too often. I've had way too many sleepless nights for no fault other than my own untamed emotions. It stinks to have to look at people you love, and the God you serve, and ask for grace.
Yet that's what I have received, over and over again. By family members. By church friends. By strangers.
I would have been really good at any kind of legalistic religion. Following the rules, working hard, doing my duty--all of those things come naturally to me. Perhaps that's why serving and giving often come easy for me. But receiving that which I don't I deserve? That's a whole lot harder. It's humbling. It makes me feel small and unworthy.
So I guess that's why receiving undeserved grace reveals my pride. I actually am small and unworthy, no matter my accomplishments. Is that why I often lose the significance of God's grace in my life? Because I want to prove myself worthy? Because I want to convince myself that there actually is something in me that deserves it? My pride would like to think that.
So then I fall again, and I grasp helplessly around for a fingerhold on the ledge of grace. God grants it to me through a kind man wanting to pray for my children or a generous gift from a friend. But those are just reminders, glimpses, of the grace he has given me through his Son. Because that grace is astonishing indeed.