Grace and Glory

“What in the world made you move up to Milwaukee?” The question was innocently asked, as it had been asked by countless other before. But this time I felt what I can only call the kindling of the Spirit within to offer an answer of unfettered, un-spun clarity. The cold truth. Not what any of the inquirers of such a simple question expected.

Looking into her kind, interested face, I said, “Well it’s a long story, but the short version is my husband has been in prison for the last three years and was just released to a halfway house here in Milwaukee. So we–the three boys and I–moved up here to be near him. But most of all, we moved because we feel like it is what God has for our family. It is God who has kept us together spiritually and emotionally these past years. So that’s it. That’s why we’re here.”

The look on her face was exactly what I had expected. Who anticipates such a weighty answer to such a bland question. And really, who expects such gut-wrenching honesty from a practical stranger. We had met less than five minutes ago. What would lead her or me to believe we could be thrown into such a serious conversation so quickly?

But while her face registered surprise–even shock–it did not convey revulsion. Instead her response was a balm to my bare soul. “Wow! You must have quite a story.” She said with gentle interest.

In that moment, I knew our meeting was God-designed. I had no clear cut understanding or expectation for our relationship as friends or sisters in Christ, but I knew God had brought us together.

One of the most challenging issues of moving to Wisconsin has been moving away from the comfort and support of a close-knit body of believers–friends and family–who know all about Joel, his past, his imprisonment, and love us anyway. Finding myself in an environment were meeting new people and building new relationships is both inevitable and necessary, has forced me to evaluate my response to even the simplest questions. It isn’t as though secrecy is an option for our family. But at the same time airing our laundry on every street corner is not healthy or wise. Furthermore, a sensitivity to the expectations of others calls for caution to avoid putting them into an awkward position.

But God reminds me repeatedly, HE defines me. Not my past, not my failures, not our family’s tragedy. All of these are a part of the tapestry of His grace in my life. But He defines me. As I allow Him that place of pre-eminence in my life and attitude, the awkwardness of our family’s story becomes less burdensome.  I am able to hear His voice within and respond to His gentle probing about when to share and what to say. And then I am amazed and strengthened by His glory as it shines forth. “The Lord God is a sun and a shield. The Lord will give GRACE and GLORY” (Psalm 84:11a).

One of the clear evidences of His grace is the friendship that has transpired from that first encounter. This woman of God has come into my life with the honest intention to walk with our family on this journey of grace and glory. Her commitment comforts, inspires and challenges me. But most of all, it is a constant reminder of His grace, His intention, His guidance.

One Response to "Grace and Glory"

  • amen, my dear! grace and glory!

    1 Joy said this (February 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm) Reply

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