“Grace, Grace, God’s Grace”

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Karen Dilbeck returns to Hungry For More today with her last in her guest post series. An inspirational speaker and freelance artist, Karen has pricked our hearts with wit and wisdom in each of her unique parables. She doesn’t disappoint today either. 

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The things we say, the things we sing,

 the things we shout, but do we mean? 

justas

 

“Just as I am, without one plea”

By Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871

 

This isn’t one of those stories about sick people, though Clara was very sick.  It isn’t one of those stories about how someone sinned, though they sinned big.  It is a story, well, it is a story about how simple God is, smack dab in the middle of complexity.

 

Clara was lying on the hospital bed after winning another wrestling match with death.  This bout of chemotherapy had been wicked.  All her hair was gone and her bones were evident under her skin. She lay motionless on the bed.  She was tired.  Real tired.

 

Derrick walked in.  I didn’t get up from my chair.  I was miffed at him, as were all of us that were close to him.  He had cheated on his wife, Jennifer, with a girl named Janice.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had recently left Jennifer and their three kids for Janice.

 

He glanced at me and, with his facial expression, asked how Clara was.  I held up my hand, level to the ground, teetering it back and forth as if to say, “barely okay.”   He just nodded.  Barely communicating was appropriate and comfortable.  For me, anyway.  I didn’t care about his comfort or discomfort.

 

He walked over to her bed and rubbed her hand.  “Hey, Clara….”  His voice trailed as her eyes slowly opened and a faint smile appeared on her face.  He smiled back.  

 

She tried to clear her throat and the words came out slowly, “Hey Derrick–how’s Janice?”

 

I felt my eyes widen.  I wanted to jump out of my chair and correct her verbal faux pas: Don’t you MEAN, ‘how is  JENNIFER?!’  Don’t you want to know how his WIFE is?!”  

 

But, I remained seated and silent, feeling my teeth as they began to grind.

 

Derrick leaned closer to the bed.  It all felt like slow motion.  He spoke a little louder, “What, Clara?  What did you say?”

 

Again, I wanted to help her by interjecting, “Clara?!  You meant to say: ‘How’s your wife?  How is JEN-NI-FER– the one you cheated on?!?’”

 

Clara, though, knew what she was saying and repeated herself, “How’s Janice?”

 

I noticed Derrick’s tense shoulders eased just as mine tightened.  And he answered, with evident relief on his face, “Fine, Clara.  She’s fine.”  She rubbed his hand.

 

I sat there in amazement.  Not the good kind of amazement that says, “oh, how sweet…”  But the appalled, righteous-judge kind of amazement that screams, “treat the adulterer like he deserves to be treated!  And then hand me some red thread so I can personally sew this scarlet letter ‘A’ on his chest!”

 

I couldn’t excuse her behavior (as if her behavior need excusing) by saying that she was not in her right mind.  After all, she easily recalled the ‘other woman’s’ name.  

 

I finally had to admit that Clara was slam full of grace and mercy and she was doling it out on as needed basis—right in front of my very eyes.

 

No, he didn’t deserve it.  But then, neither did I.  Though it wasn’t my place, I judged him extremely and, in my own small way, I wanted him to feel the weight of his sin.  I wanted him punished.  

 

He was unconcerned with me, though.  He was busy receiving grace, from a woman who was willing and able to give it freely.  It made no sense.  But grace never, ever does.  It is unfathomable and practically indefinable.

 

There is a morbid song that has been written about a serial killer who hid his victims under his house.  You won’t ever hear it played on the radio.  I can’t imagine it ever being sung at a concert.  I won’t even provide the name of the song or most of the lyrics.  But the impact of the last lines of this song, a song that I could only listen to once, shook me to the core of my fragile being: 

 

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid

 

I really want to believe I am light years better than that serial killer; 

and a lot better than the prostitute I met in Chiang Mai, Thailand; 

and a bit better than my neighbor who went to the lake instead of to church;  

and just plain better than Derrick.

 

But I am not.

 

Grace is given for needy people.  

 

And grace can look like a simple question from a sick bed that interpreted means, “I take you just as you are–simply because you came.” 

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