Surprised By Grace
After a particularly strenuous time of ministry, Jesus once invited his disciples to join him on what we call a retreat. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) My sweet wife followed suit by taking me to Leavenworth for a few days last week.
There is lots to love about this quaint little Bavarian-themed tourist town. It is beautifully situated on the Wenatchee river with stunning mountains all around, and the holiday lights on the trees and buildings create a true winter wonderland. Ritzy boutiques line the main strip for those who like to shop, and for those who like to eat there are more bratwursts and bakeries than you can shake a fork at. Believe me, I tried. It truly is a wonderful place to take a deep breath and rest.
However, there were two unexpected blessings that particularly encouraged my soul. Early in the morning I quietly slipped out to the spacious commons area to spend some time with the Lord. It was just as I hoped: The coffee was hot and the room was empty. As I began to read my Bible, I became aware that the background music was all praise songs. It was such a sweet surprise, like when you suddenly notice snowflakes beginning to fall. I just sat there and soaked in the grace of the moment, knowing that the room would soon become busy with other guests needing their morning java.
A bit later, I heard the voice of a woman talking on the phone. The morning was so quiet I couldn’t help but overhear that she was talking with Amtrak and trying to solve a travel dilemma. Apparently, she and her extended family had come by train for a family wedding and were scheduled to return the day before. But a train derailment had set them back a day and it was now looking like it might turn into two or even three days. I could hear the worry in her voice over all the problems this was causing at their respective jobs and schools. But what absolutely floored me was how politely she was talking. This woman had every reason to be very upset, and yet she was so gracious as she patiently sought a solution with the representative.
When she was finally finished, I couldn’t help it. I went over and expressed my appreciation and admiration for such beautiful grace despite very difficult circumstances. She smiled wearily and went on to give credit to Jesus. (I thought I recognized that grace!) We took a moment and prayed for God’s help to get them home.
Now I am back in the saddle, and there is no lack of things to attend to. But I thank Jesus for his gift of rest.