We take it for granted that God is at work all around us, and even in us. Let me tell you a little story about this. You see, the random, chaotic, and uncertain world we live appears to meet us with coldness most of the time. Life is not fair. That is a fact. There are some who are disadvantaged while others have fortune smiling on them. All the while, it is not their fault for the circumstances they are born into. Indeed, we can also crash and descend with our own efforts as well. But, we can pull ourselves up and even more so we can pull up those around us. In between saving the world and just making it through the day are stories like these.
My mother lives in Atlanta and my family in Los Angeles. It is rare that we get to see each other. With the growing tribe of grandchildren and great grandchildren that her five sons have proliferated, keeping in touch is not as easy as it was in the past. This past Christmas I printed pictures from a photo shoot of our family of four with hopes of getting them to my mom. Nevertheless,, with the excuses of Christmas services and busyness of the season, I left them on the counter for weeks as good intentions faded. On one phone call to my mom–a treat for me on my commutes to work–she let me know the color of frames on her mantle. It was surely now time to get frames and mail the package. I mailed them on a rare rainy day in SoCal.
In the next couple weeks, I hoped to hear from my mom about the letter and the pictures we sent. But, time passed. I did not call. I did not check the tracking system for the package which I usually did religiously. For once, I just sat and assumed all was well. And, my mom is a busy woman with a full house. She even has a growing bible study of women she encourages each week. So, more time passed. Then I saw a random message on Facebook.
Usually an uninvited message from Facebook is a spam item. But, this was not. A young sheriff’s deputy happened upon three pictures in frames that looked too special to be on the side of the road. She opened up one and found my name on the back. You see, the extra packing and box these pictures came in was nowhere to be found. The deputy, being the competent officer she is, found me on Facebook. She sent a snapshot of the photo and asked if she could help get the pictures delivered.
Five miles from my mother’s home these framed pictures were found on the side of the road by a young woman on duty as a sheriff’s deputy. I responded to the Facebook message and gave her my mother’s address. Later that day, she met my mother. In all the cold randomness that seems to be the wind pushing us, a special encounter took place. My mom, being the grace-magnet that she is, greeted the deputy warmly.As any respectable mom and grandma would do, she passed copies of my CD and my daughter’s CD to the woman. And, she invited her to be part of her life.
I heard back from the deputy almost immediately. It emerged that she attended the same church as my mother and was interested in going to the small bible study my mother hosts in her home. I can’t tell you how many times my mother has invited people at the right time to be a part of her hospitality. And, as she looks at the family pictures on the mantle they represent many many more random people she has touched and will touch with her life of grace.
I think things like this happen all the time. I confess that my cynicism believes more in random coldness than in providentially warm invitation. This holy week we can be cynical and forget that Christ really is here. We can delve into the darkness rather than let it contrast the Light of the World who is present with us. There actually is nothing random about grace, with one caveat. Grace is so big that there is enough to treat it as a random commodity to be spread everywhere. Lord, this holy week please forgive my stinginess. Let me be willing to be present enough to graciously invite people into light and life the way you do.