I was just on the road, traveling overseas, for 4.5 weeks. That’s a long time for me. I’m a home-body.
I’m truly very thankful that during that entire time, I didn’t get sick. I normally expect to get some sort of cold, sore throat, or stomach bug when traveling internationally, especially for over a month.
But I didn’t.
However, the day after I returned, I got slammed with a cold–congestion, sore throat, coughing. Actually, it was kind of nice: the sickness helped mask the effects of jet lag.
Then, in the midst of my sickness, I had to run out and repark the car. Having gone through a box and a half of tissues in a day (no kidding), the 15 minutes that I needed to go out and move the car were an amazing reprieve: not a single nose drip. Not even a sniffle.
I’ve attached a phrase to these experiences. “Grace for the moment.”
I do not think they are just lucky or fortunate experiences. I believe that God cares for me, and in a special way, He extended grace to me–in the form of physical health–when I needed it. He protected me and kept me going. He provided the grace in the amount and at the time that it was needed.
Some might ask: but then why did I ever get sick eventually? Wouldn’t a gracious God just keep me healthy all of the time?
Certainly He could do such a thing. But I would never see or understand His gifts of grace unless I was brought into a season of truly realizing my need. When I became sick, I realized very clearly that I had been healthy over the last 4.5 weeks, and I was then able to imagine how much more difficult the trip would have been if I would have had to endure sickness during that time. By becoming sick, I was able to look back and appreciate the grace that had been extended to me. If I would never have gotten sick, I would certainly have taken the gift of health for granted.
God saw my need for grace and provided, and then He was also good enough to lead me into a season of obvious need so that I could rightly acknowledge and appreciate the grace that He had bestowed on me.
Grace is really only experienced (realized) in times of need. When things are going well, we tend not to focus on how bad they could be; we tend to have a difficult time appreciating the good things when we don’t have hard things with which to directly contrast them.
Grace comes in many forms–in many areas of life, God gives us things that we do not deserve. The most precious form of grace is deliverance from the eternal punishment of sin which we have all incurred. In my own life, I admit that I do not often have a deep consciousness of the weight of my sin, and as a result, I also do not have a deep experience of God’s grace in this area. Part of the journey that I am currently on is getting in touch with the reality of my sin and the significance of the deliverance that has been applied to me as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But I’m not there yet–I’m not in a place of regular acknowledgement of the severity of my sin, and as a result, I am also not in a place of deep experience of–and gratitude for–the eternal grace that God has given to me.
I do not have an amazing “before and after” life story, with which I can easily highlight how God’s grace in the area of redemption for sin has transformed me. But yet, His grace and transformation are no less real or significant in my life than in the life of someone who does have such a radical testimony. It’s just going to take me a little more diligence to dig in, realize it, and relate it as being my story.
Should I pray for a severe experience of sin so that I can more readily understand the depth of His grace? May it never be!–but yet, if I do give into such a season of life, I know that He will not abandon me. In the meantime, I want to worship Him rightly, and to be able to accurately and authentically describe His grace to others. Some of that comes from knowledge, from reading His Word, and some of that comes from life experience. I hope for more experience, and more self-awareness in the area of my previous experiences of His grace, so that my words can be even more further founded on a deep, intimate knowledge of His grace.
Looking back, my wife too was basically spared from getting ill while on the trip–except that her eventual sickness hit her on the plane ride home. God gave me one extra day of health than He gave to her. I guess He sees me in more need of grace than she is. 🙂