Monday, March 21, 2011

The Answer Is Grace

I took a walk today at lunch, and while I enjoyed the fresh air and pleasant breeze, I tried to focus on God.  I began by praising him for such a wonderful day and then my thoughts seemed to settle on something that had happened several years ago.  Something that has troubled me off and on since it occurred.  

Almost six years ago, I went into business for myself as a management and leadership consultant.  I had gotten a contract with the University of Arkansas and things were going really well.  I loved being self-employed.  It was something I had dreamed about for years and finally it looked like I was going to live the dream.

About a year-and-a-half after I got the contract, the focus shifted at UA and I found myself without a contract.  I limped along for over a year, trying to make it and contacted several people I had known for years.  I asked if they might consider using me for some of the training they were doing.  No one would take the chance on me, and after an extremely hard year, I went back to work for someone else.

Jump forward about a year.  One of the people I had hoped would give me a chance found himself without a job and he formed a consulting firm.  Shortly after forming his company, he called on me to see if I would use his company for training.  Suddenly the tables were turned.  I will confess a part of me wanted desperately to say, “Why should I help you?  When I needed your help, you wouldn’t give me even a crumb.  You were in a position you could have helped me, but you didn’t.  Now, you want my help and even more you think I should help you.”

I thought it, but I didn’t say it.  Begrudging, I did what I could to help him, but it was hard and I held the deep feeling of being a total sucker.  I helped, but not with a generous spirit.

As I walked, I asked the Lord again as I have so many times, “Why couldn’t this person have helped me?  It might have made all the difference for me.”   Today, after almost three years, I think I got an answer.  I heard the still small voice inside say, “Because you needed to show him grace.”

Wow!  I’d love to tell you I felt such relief and all the disappointment instantly vanished, but it didn’t.  I’m not that good of a person.  However, it is reassuring to have an answer even if I don’t particularly like it.  I mean couldn’t someone else have been the person to show grace.  Wait a minute – there was a person who showed me grace when He bore all my sins and sorrows and allowed Himself to be beaten, mocked, and crucified on a tree.  Reality check: the grace shown me is far more than any grace I have ever extended.  

Jesus is the example, and I can never measure up to His example.  All I can do is follow what He has asked me to do.  “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful.”  (Luke 6:36)

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