Grace Sometimes Sucks…That’s Why Grace is Needed

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Grace is such a lovely word. Grace is so lovely. Grace is so, so pleasant.

While that is true, it is also true that grace sometimes absolutely sucks. Because grace is complicated, messy, stinky, hard. It would be so much easier if grace was nice and clean.

But then, if things were nice and clean, we wouldn’t need grace.

At my previous pastorate we got involved in mowing the lawns of senior citizens on fixed incomes. We learned that there was a city employee going around town handing out fines of $50 a pop for folks who’s grass was above the city ordinance height. This makes perfect sense. Everyone wants their city to look nice.

For most folks, this was not a problem. They mowed their own lawns, or payed someone to do it.

But the folks who were most often cited were senior citizens on fixed income. Not only could they not afford to pay their fines, they didn’t have the money to get their lawns mowed. Couple that with multiple straight weeks where the Texas temperatures hit 100 degrees plus in the summer. These senior citizens had no business getting out in that heat to mow lawns.

But wait…the church had a lot of young people. Young people who were either sleeping in on Saturday mornings or watching cartoons or playing video games.

So, the church challenged our young people to devote 4 hours a month to mow lawns. We were not in the business of putting lawn mowing people out of business. We just wanted to make sure that the senior citizens who couldn’t afford the citation or to have their lawns mowed wouldn’t get fined.

Here’s where grace is awesomely messy and difficult.

For the most part, people who got their lawns mowed were very much deserving. They really were folks in need and folks who really appreciated the help.

When church folks would show up to mow the lawns, and we always asked them to knock on the doors of the people so they knew who we were and why we were there.

And this is where grace got really messy and sucky. There were occasions where the door would open and our volunteers would see not only senior citizens, but young guys, able body guys, sitting in their pjs watching cartoon, playing video games, or sleeping on the couch!

Our volunteers would come back frustrated and angry.

Grace is messy. Grace is complicated.

If you’re in the business of grace, it’s going to get messy.

But stay at it. Still be gracious anyway. There are people who are being helped. There are lives that are being impacted. God knows.

Extend grace anyway.


Screenshot 2018-05-22 at 2.03.49 PMI will be on Sabbatical from June 1 until August 31.
Here are some questions I get asked when folks learn I will be taking a Sabbatical:
What will you be doing on your Sabbatical?
I will be resting, reading, and reflecting.
The first part of my Sabbatical will be to practice Sabbath – a cessation from the normal routines of preaching and leading. After a couple of weeks to adjust to a new pattern, I will be in Virginia to read. The main goal is to read and research about creating a culture of discipleship and being more effective with reaching the Boomers and retirees with the good news of Jesus Christ. Finally, I will spend August in Thailand as I reflect on the next season of ministry here at the Little Church on the Prairie and Lakewood Grace.
Why Virginia?
I went to seminary in Richmond, VA. I will be staying close enough to the seminary where I can spend most my days either at the seminary library or a cafe near by. Libraries and cafes are some of my favorite places to read.
Why Thailand?
When I was looking at places to go for the last portion of the Sabbatical, there were several criteria:
1. A place with good public transport so I would not need to rent a car
2. A place where there were lots of cafes within walking distance
3. A place that’s cheap!
There were several places that popped up, but I chose to go with Thailand because it was so cheap.
I will be praying for you and the Little Church and Lakewood Grace. I will be thinking of you quite often. I will post blogs up regularly on things I am experiencing. You can find a link to my blog on the Little Church’s web pageĀ
Remember to pray for me, and I look forward to being back in the saddle September 1.
Pastor James <><