The Grace Jar #7

August 23, 2019

 

I find it difficult to believe that over two months have passed since I last wrote. I also find it amazing that God had begun to take me to a place where refilling my Grace Jar--a place where previously used grace was not enough--began only shortly before my world turned pear shaped. 

 

On May 15, 2019 I first wrote, having only just realized, that my Grace Jar had been depleted. I had no grace to give, only grace to receive--if I would allow it. I began to journal my way through the emptiness. The questions that lingered just ahead of my thoughts. Then, three days later, my brother called to tell me that his cancer had returned in fury. That I needed to come to Georgia as quickly as I could. 

 

Several times that evening as I headed up US 95 N, I burst into tears. Even though I had no idea at the time that the better part of the next three months would be spent with my brother, that I would watch him fade away in a swirl of chemo infusions and constant vomiting, and uncertainty, I somehow knew that life for the two of us had been irrevocably altered. 

 

My Grace Jar, nearly unnoticed during this time, filled slowly, even though, my perception at times was that God, even as He swirled around me, wasn't present. Or that He was, but He wasn't listening. Or that He listened, but He just didn't answer. Or that He answered, and I couldn't hear him over the din of traffic and hospital chatter and phone calls and decisions that needed to be made. 

 

The oddest moment in the three months came an hour before my brother passed from this dreadful life to Glorious Life Eternal. I had watched all night as he suffered, as he gasped for breath. I had watched him draw his naked knees up to his naked chest (he wore only an adult diaper because his skin could take no more than that). I watched as his hands--long and pale and bony--reached for something only he could perceive. I listened as he spoke to someone I could not see over in the corner of the room near the door. Then, finally, as a modicum of peace fell over the room, I laid my weary head against the bed's protective railing and silently prayed, "God, if you are going to take him anyway, do it NOW." 

 

Other than gasping, there was only silence.

 

"Are you even listening to me?" I asked.

 

My cell phone began to chime. One after the other, as if someone had sent a series of text messages, one sentence at a time. I sighed in frustration, then sat up straight and reached for my phone to discover that nearly a dozen or more people from all over my network of friends and family had texted to say, "God just placed you BIG TIME on my heart. I'm praying!" 

 

Among those, friend Susan Simpson also sent a line from C.S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

 

But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, "Courage, dear heart," and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face. 

 

Grace comes in all measures. It comes with living and breathing. It comes with dying and the final sigh. It comes in the touch of friends, the love of family, and it comes in text messages. 

 

Sometimes it comes in words penned a half a world away in 1952.

 

Yes, in those times when we are not certain that God hears, He does. He hears and He fills up the Grace Jar, even when we are not aware of its presence in our lives. 

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