The thing that interests me is that word grace, and all the things it promises. How deep its meaning is. Grace, by nature, is so easy to abuse. If you can’t abuse grace, it really is not grace. Yet, as we begin to understand it, we will not want to manipulate grace, or cheat it; we will want to start sharing it with others. I met this guy recently and he told me a cool story, and I never tell true stories. But this one is so good, so much stranger than fiction, I could not help but share it with you as best as I can.
This guy was a Christian, he had been raised in church, and he really wanted to live out his faith. This story happened some time during his senior year of high school. A lady from his church asked if he could help a family in town move, move the furniture and heavier boxes into a u-haul. He agreed to meet up at the family’s house when school got out that Tuesday afternoon.
So three o’clock Tuesday, this guy showed up at the doorstep of a family he had never met. He dropped his backpack in the foyer, and met the lady from church, Katie, and the mother of the family he was helping. She was trying to clean and pack and watch her four year old daughter Grace all at the same time, but it was really difficult because her husband was at work still. Katie had asked another guy from the church to help out as well named Andy, but he did not show up when he was supposed to.
So this guy told Katie and the mother they could pack and clean, and he would take care of Grace. He watched her dancing around, and she came up to him and started to feel him. It turned out, Grace had been born blind. That family had been dealing with it for four years. He read her a storybook that had both written words and braille. He was actually a little freaked out when she wanted to play outside, and every time she wandered too near the street, he called out, “Grace! Come back.” and he would run after her and grab her so she would not get hit by any cars.
Finally, an hour later Katy and the lady came outside and told him that Andy was not gonna make it for a while; he had been held up at a job interview. So this guy took out his cellphone and started making calls to people around town who he thought might come help.
His first call was to his youth pastor, but the youth pastor said, “Sorry. I am too busy preparing for youth group tonight. I can’t help.
So he called one of his close Christian friends, another kid who had grown up in church, but when he answered he told the guy, “Sorry. I can’t make it. I am really swamped by all this homework, and then I have to go to band practice for church.”
The guy was kind of bummed that his Christian friends let him down, but he had an idea. He decided to call his really good friend who was not a Christian but was a reliable guy. When his friend answered the phone, he said, “Yeah. I can do my homework later. I will be there in ten minutes, and I am bringing one of my friends I was with, too.”
Well, this guy, his friend, and his friend’s friend worked till seven o clock and Andy and the lady’s husband showed up, and they finished packing everything and moving it to another house across town. By the end of the day, they were all exhausted. The mother started to pay them, and Andy got twenty dollars. The guy’s friend and the friend’s friend also got twenty dollars each. When the lady got to this guy she gave him a hundred dollars. He asked if it was by accident, but she said, “No. You deserve more. You could have just left when no one else showed up, but you stayed. You watched Grace, and you brought people to come help us.”
As I have been studying the Gospel of Luke recently, two parables really seem to be highlighted by this guy’s story. In Luke 10, there is a story about a man in need who is passed by two very “holy” men, men who consider religion more important than mercy. Then another man comes along, a man who normally never would have associated with the victim because of cultural tension took pity on him. He took care of the hurt man, and helped him. Jesus said that third man is the one we should be like.
That is not to say, “Christianity is bad.” I would not say that, but tradition is not nearly as important as the needs of a fellow person. “Love your neighbor” even if you have youth group or work or band practice. God first, people second, everything else after that.
Another story, in Luke 19, is about a nobleman who was trying to become king, and he gave some servants money to invest while he is away. One servant has ten times as much, a huge return, and he is rewarded richly; the king let him keep the money and made him in charge of ten cities. Another servant has five times as much, still a huge return, and he is rewarded richly as well with the money he made and rule of five cities. But there was a servant who was afraid, and he hid the money. He did not even put it in a bank to collect interest. His money was taken from him and give to the one who had ten. The punishment was severe.
So that high school guy invested his time, and his relationships, and he was rewarded well. It is such a cool story, and it really brings the gospel to life. I think we could all learn to take risks, to be good Samaritans, and to share God’s story of grace as we await our welcome of “Well done, good and faithful servant.”