By Fylvia Fowler Kline, Assistant Director, General Conference Stewardship

Summary: When life lacks appreciation and rewards, wrap your heart in the grace of God, and you’ll forever find joy, abundant joy--a joy that makes it all worthwhile.

While editing this issue, I was drawn again and again to a story in the book, Finding God Between a Rock and a Hard Place (reviewed on p 14): Chris was in a hurry. This was not a day to lose time. Yet it happened: The traffic was extra heavy, the weather was extra cold. And in the middle of it all, an old woman, oblivious to the snow or the cars, was pushing a cart of groceries through the lanes of traffic. Ignoring the angry honking, Chris did what the Spirit prompted her to do. She stopped to offer the old woman a ride. The woman neither resisted nor acknowledged the offer. Angry, animal-like noises came from the woman as Chris helped her into the car. When asked where she lived, there were more noises and hand gesturing, all of which frightened Chris and her two children in the back seat. Attempts to interpret the woman’s motions and eight miles later, Chris found the woman’s home--a dilapidated shack. The woman made more noises and stared icily as Chris helped her out and carried the groceries. Then the woman slammed the door without a smile or a thank you. Love is often untidy. . . . It is firm, unchangeable, and hard. It is often missing that feel-good quality we human beings are perennially on the prowl for. Real love isn’t tidy. In fact, it’s downright messy. Real love doesn’t pass by the unlovely in pain. Real love doesn’t look for a thank-you. It is its own reward (p 95).

What makes the difference? What makes it all worthwhile? The grace of God working in you. Grace enables you to turn the other cheek, to love the unlovable, to give without knowing why (see Mwansa’s lead article). Be it a casual observation or a good theological dissection, grace opens up a myriad of meaning-- and many questions (some of which Maxson answers in his column). This issue tries to unveil the kaleidoscopic role of grace in the Christian life.

As in the story, your life probably lacks appreciation and rewards. But wrap your heart in the grace of God, and you’ll forever find joy, abundant joy--a joy that makes it all worthwhile.

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January–March, 2000

Grace