Recently I sat at my desk, deep in thought as my 2 boys played in another room, laughing occasionally as they chattered.
Suddenly, the peacefulness of the moment was shattered as a string of vile words rose in anger from outside. There was a brief pause, perhaps to catch their breath, and then another string of words. Angry, ugly word after word rang through the room and I peeked out the window, perplexed about whom might be speaking in such a way in our quiet, mostly elderly, neighborhood.
Not what I expected
I was taken aback when I saw it was our mailman, in his truck in a full blown rage. The profanity continued as he swung his arms around and hit things. It was all very ugly … and raw.
I recently read a book that the Lord was using to radically change my heart. See, just a few weeks prior to that little episode with the mailman my natural response would have been to call the Post Office and report this mailman for public indecency. It was unprofessional and entirely uncalled for while in uniform and within hearing range of residential homes. Especially near my children.
But. For the grace of God. His grace toward me.
God used the book “The Twenty-Piece Shuffle: Why the Poor and Rich Need Each Other”, and the timely read of it, in this situation. The book is all about a pastor and his experience with street people – the raw and the ugly – and their need for God. And he talks about the wealthy and their masks that they hide behind while they are in dire need of God too. The book deeply impressed upon me our own depravity and our desperate need for God, regardless of our circumstances.
As I sat pondering in a quick moment what my response would be to this man, I was struck deeply that but for the grace of God that could be me. Perhaps I would still contain enough self-control to not be so manic in public, but perhaps not. Certainly though, it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks and this man was speaking from pain, anger and frustrations of which I knew nothing.
What he needed to know
And it hit me deeply that this man needed to know the love of a Savior that loves him. He needed to know the love of the Savior that loves me and gave me such grace when I am so undeserving. In the moment of his ugly humanity, he needed to be extended kindness.
I went out to him, as he was just getting ready to walk up our driveway. I greeted him warmly and mentioned that it sounded like he had had a rough day. And he explained some new procedure with package deliveries that has been frustrating him. I told him I was sorry and would be praying for him. He waved me off and left, without any indication that he knew I had heard him just minutes before.
The next day I gathered some snacks and a gospel verse card and wrote a little note to the mailman, in it letting him know I had been praying and would continue to be praying for him and his struggles, and thanking him for his faithful service even on his hard days.
He wrote a note back. Thanking me and apologizing for the previous day.
I know many who would be more eloquent in their conversation, more purposeful in their approach, more prepared. But for me, I am encouraged to see that I am growing and changing.
I know that my response was not normal in and of myself, and that it was His grace toward me and working through me that helped me see something bigger. Something more than just a professional acting in an unbecoming manner and see that there was a hurting man in need of grace.
I shared that story with a friend, in thankfulness and amazement of God’s timing in providing the book, the conviction, and the opportunity to practically apply what God was showing me. And she told me a story.
An opportunity to share Christ
She was in Walmart and her young child misplaced her wallet. When it was eventually returned to her it was missing a few hundred dollars in cash. But as security cameras revealed, it turned out it was the very employee that returned the wallet that had stolen the cash.
She was being pushed to press charges against this employee. But against all common sense and man-made logic she decided not to push charges.
Instead, she used the opportunity to show forgiveness that defies human logic. Because of God’s grace to her she saw this as an opportunity to be a witness to His transforming love and power. She was able to very pointedly share the gospel with not only the thief, but also the management that was pushing her to press charges, and with a security guard.
There is so much more to the story that points to the transforming power of God in a person’s life, but the point is this – God through us enables us to do what we otherwise could not do.
The essence of the Chrstian life
Isn’t that what this Christian life is all about? Becoming more like our precious Savior. Letting go of seeking justice and extending undeserving grace in the name of our Savior, because He has done so for us and because we want others to taste and see the goodness of our Lord.
He is so good, so gracious, so relational – does it not stand to reason that as we seek to know Him more we reflect these things to those around us who are hurting and suffering?
Editorial note: This article was first published on Jessica’s blog and is used here with her permission.