Last week I stopped by my mother-in-law’s assisted living apartment to visit. I caught her in the middle of a frustrating moment with her phone. When I asked to help, she sighed and said, “I’m just so stupid.”
I immediately interrupted her and said, “No, you’re not. Phone struggles are not stupid. Let me tell you what’s stupid. Let me tell you about a lesson in grace.”
Before visiting that day I’d had a playdate with my grandson Austin. Preparing to take him home, I set my phone on the roof of the car, so I could buckle him into his car seat. Already know where this is going?
Yep, buckled Austin in, got in myself and buckled my own seatbelt, and headed down the road. After picking up speed on the highway, I heard a loud clunk, clunk. What was that? Did a rock just hit my car? Did I run over something in the road? And then it really hit me: my phone. Ugh!
I turned the car around and told Austin that Grandma’s phone had made the funny noise and now she needed to see if she could find it. “But where, Grandma?”
And that was the question of the day, but where?
After parking on a small siding road next to the highway, I called my husband. “Kurt, I’m going to need your help finding my phone. It could be in the road or in the grass here on the side of the road.”
Halfway through our conversation, I realized that without thinking, I’d called Kurt from the car. I’d pushed the car’s speed dial (Setting #1) and the car had called Kurt using my phone.
“Kurt, it’s got to be nearby! My car’s picking it up. I’m making this call from my phone!”
Determined to find my phone, I reassured Austin I would just be a minute.
I looked out on the asphalt. I walked through the tall grass. I looked in front of my car. I looked behind my car.
And then turning around, I saw it. On the back window, stuck in the frame, was my phone. Not a scratch on it.
I was absolutely overwhelmed. Before I’d even gotten back into the car, I said out loud, “God, there is nothing I’ve done today to deserve this. Nothing. Not a single thing. Nothing yesterday either.”
A lesson in grace. You may have heard people of faith talk about grace and mercy. We’ve been known to use the words interchangeably, but they’re very different. We’ll compare them to justice.
In their simplest forms, justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. And I got a lesson in grace.
On Saturday I made a stupid mistake, leaving my phone on the roof of my car. I deserved to find my phone in pieces in the center lane of a major highway, smashed by a car or truck hurrying to beat a nearby traffic light.
Mercy in that situation would have been not getting what I deserved. The phones not in pieces, but the screen’s cracked. The phone might be usable, but a mess.
But no, I got grace. I got what I didn’t deserve—a phone without a scratch on it, a phone absent any signs of neglect. A lesson in grace.
I’ve thought back on that scene so often this week. I was careless and absent-minded. Even as I’d placed my phone on the roof, I’d thought to myself, Gonna need to pick that up, but then I didn’t.
That’s my life, friends: the best of intentions, what I think are careful plans. And then I find myself having a moment, not paying attention, messing up.
And God’s grace is there again and again and again. His grace leaves me, leaves all of us, without a scratch (so to speak), absent signs of neglect (if you know what I mean).
I don’t mean to make light of God’s grace—which is huge, which is much, much bigger that a phone incident. This lesson in grace was just a moment that helped me appreciate God’s bigger moments in my life, especially those involving His grace.
The moral of the story, that lesson in grace, is that God’s not always going to rescue us from our missteps (the small m’s in life), but He is going to save us from the bigger one (the capital S-I-N ones).
God insists on being there for us. God catches us when we fall. God knows we’ll have those days when we hear a clunk-clunk. It might be a silly mishap or a bigger misunderstanding with someone dear, but He insists on joining us in our journey—no matter where life takes us, no matter where we might find ourselves.
And that’s encouraging. In a letter to Timothy in the New Testament, we are encouraged to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1).
Chris Tomlin is an awesome Christian songwriter. You are no doubt familiar with the words of Amazing Grace. Listen to his chorus:
My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
God’s amazing grace, ladies. Words of encouragement. A lesson in grace.
A week before finding myself on the side of the road looking for my phone, my grandson Enzo and I were also in the car together. I was regaling him with grandmotherly insights when he reminded me about some mistakes I’d made. On top of the list is the fact that I’m forever calling him Austin and calling grandson Austin Enzo.
“Grandma….” he’ll say.
This time he offered words of reassurance and encouragement.
“You’re old, Grandma, but I’m new. I will help you remember when you forget.”
“We’re a team, Enzo.”
“We’re a team, Grandma.”
We’re a team, ladies.