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Unspeakable Grace: A Wonderful Witness

With a diaper bag over one shoulder, a baby in my arms, and a toddler wrapped around both legs, I waited patiently in the line. It had been a long morning and an uphill battle every step between my bed and that line in front of the counter. I really didn't feel very good and the babies hadn't slept very well. My night-shift-working-man could hardly hold his head up. Just about the time I was starting to wonder why on earth I had even tried to drag us to church at all, I turned just enough for his face to catch my peripheral. I reacted quickly like any polite Baptist would and asked him how he was.

The glimmer in his eye, the joy that overtook his face, the confidence in his voice as he said those words rung loud in my ears. They still do, well over a decade later.

"I'm doing wonderful. How are you?"

I hardly knew the man and I struggle to recall his first name without deliberation now, but I will never forget the witness he was to me that morning. A husband and father of three young children, battling cancer with everything he had in him, I had watched him wither away from a few pews behind him in the balcony. It had been weeks since I had seen him and it would be mere weeks until the Father called him home, but that morning? That morning, he told me he was doing wonderful and he was thrilled to just be standing in the line at the nursery counter with his baby boy.

His courage and joy have spoken volumes to me over the years and he didn't even know my name.

When my curly haired rebel can't find her shoe for the umpteenth time, when the sniffles have given way to tears, when morning sickness got the best of me more than once, when my pillow was more inviting than my pastor, when grief and bitterness asked again why I should even bother, when complacency feels better than obedience... I am forced, over and over, to ponder anew the privilege to make it to church - or work or story time or the basketball game or the grocery store - at all and that long-gone-man's valor has spurred me on to seek blessings I would have undoubtedly missed otherwise. His faith has been made sight and it continues to ask me what mine is made of.

Friend, I don't know what awaits you this morning. It's Tuesday, so I know it's probably not the sort of blessing that awaits you inside the church doors. What I know - what that warrior from a few pews down taught me all those years ago - is that it is a privilege to get to go. It's an honor to be able to show up. It's a "wonderful" blessing to partake in the ordinary. No matter what demons may be trying their best to trip us up and keep us home - and to keep us far from the blessings that await us - may we find the courage to get up and to show up. 

That courage may very well keep talking long after we are able; and, it may speak to people who don't even remember our names after we are gone.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3


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