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.