God’s Grace is Sufficient
Parson to Person – Week of June 1, 2021
I found myself walking through the doors of Tryon Hospital in North Carolina. My doctor, in an annual x-ray, had seen something on my kidney and wanted it checked out. He had said it could be something…it could be nothing. I had come with hope it was nothing and the ultra sound would confirm it. Ultrasound was a relatively new term for me in this year of 1990. They took me to the dressing area and gave me the semi-private gown to wear telling me to remove everything except my shoes. I dutifully did as commanded and they came and began an IV. It was an interesting walk from that area to the place for the ultra sound because I had to hold the back of my gown with one hand and the IV pole with the other. I walked down the hall in my semi-private gown and my navy blue knee-socks and my black patent leather shoes. I was a sight and a bit relieved that I was far enough away from home that I would not have to worry about seeing anyone I knew. WRONG! As I walked down the hallway here comes several people I knew…some of them members of my church. I nodded as they approached and that’s about all I could do holding my gown and my IV pole. Thanks goodness when you are negotiating those things people do not believe it is a time for talk…though I am sure they were speculating.
I got to the room and they did the ultra sound. Man, that gel was cold! As the person conducting this test did the scan…he was like a tour guide. I see this and I see that…and then he said…I cannot find your right kidney…which thrilled me to no end. Then he said, “There it is! It’s not in its proper place.” Apparently, when I was born, it did not gravitate to its proper location. There were hmmms…and ohhhhs and then…“Okay, we’re finished.” There would be no results today. It would take a week. Again, it could be something…it could be nothing. I was sent home with those two choices to my regular routine and schedule. Most of my questions were about Sara Dee and not myself. What would she do? Are we prepared enough for her to be alright?
I confess it was hard to work and keep my mind focused on things when I was living between something and nothing. I went to the altar of our church and knelt to pray. It’s the best thing I know to do. I spent time praying and wondering…it was then I noticed someone there. One of my members…and a close friend had come to the church looking for me. He had come to the Sanctuary looking for me. He said nothing…because he knew nothing. He just knew enough to know that if I was praying in the Sanctuary, it must be pretty big. He knelt beside me and put his hand on my shoulder. He said nothing. He stayed only a few moments. And then he left! But the reminder was well-placed. When in need, God comes to us. When worries abound, God’s grace is present. When fear is trying to rule, God’s comforting presence reaches out and is present to us. The touch of a friend’s hand reminded me of that truth.
IT TURNED OUT TO BE A NOTHING…JUST A SHADOW…BUT I WILL NEVER FORGET THE LIFE LESSON AT THE ALTAR OF THE CHURCH…GOD COMES TO US AND HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT.
The disciples learn the same lesson while on the sea. The weather is stormy and they were in the midst of it…3 to 4 miles out. As the wind blows they see something coming toward them on the sea. Their superstitions of monsters in the sea take over and so does their fear. Perhaps it is a ghost! Suddenly, Jesus calls out, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” And just as quickly as they took him into their boat they arrived in safety!
“It is I” means “I Am!” It is the Lord’s way of saying, “God is here. Don’t be afraid.” It is the presence of God alone that can walk on water. Even when it appears there is no way whatsoever it could happen…God comes to his people. It is the presence of God that comes to his people to provide the help and grace and compassion needed. Though they follow Jesus, they are astonished at what he does. Once again, it is a miracle…meant for their eyes and hearts…and this miracle teaches that those who follow God should understand that God comes to us…God finds us and we do not always bear the responsibility for finding God…just the opportunity to respond to his presence.
The miracle teaches that God come to us…and later the cross will teach us that God comes for us. Our life lesson is to understand that in our need…our fears…our worries…our struggles…our doubts…our concerns…our troubles…God comes to us and says “I am here. Don’t be afraid!” His grace is sufficient as we deal with life and it deals with us. God comes to us!
That is how calm comes to us. Anxieties are not our enemy. Anxieties make us think and sometimes they even inspire to act cautiously about life decisions. Because life doesn’t always turn out like we hope…anxieties cause us to fear that all of life will not turn out like we hope. Calm comes when we invite the Lord into our souls. He is the one who says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He is the one who teaches, “You will have tribulation in the world, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Calm comes through understanding that we are never alone as life unfolds. We are never without help.
Our culture doesn’t understand calm. It’s due to our culture thinking that calm is a result of things happening. Calm comes for the Christian before the results are in. Calm from knowing that we abide in eternal hands that never let us go and always work for our good. Calm comes through a person…Jesus Christ. He faced what life sent and remained faithful to God’s plan. When beaten and hurt by people he said, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” His connection to God was strong and it came through prayer. And prayer is a great way to approach life and to deal with life.
Our Lord never said, “Lose heart!” Jesus said, “Take heart!” Calm is available to every soul as a gift from above. I write about it because it is a key feature for church people. People are attracted to the church when things seem to be at peace and souls are winsome. People rarely ever say, “Let’s go visit that church. I hear they fight better than any other church.” People say, “Let’s find the church fellowship where peace prevails and it’s clear that people love the Lord.”
For me, that is John Wesley Church. The more people in Charleston know about it…the more they will want to find us.