Saturday, January 31, 2015

Got Grace?

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  John 1:16

I wished I could think of a way to minister God’s love to Zaina(pseudonym). She has suffered so much losing her husband and most of her family members either physically or emotionally. Her assimilation into our culture has been long and far from successful. Certain triggers provoke panic attacks. Every time I call her I don’t know how to encourage her.  Nothing seems to communicate enough care it seems. Oh Lord, please give me an idea, I begged God one day. Okay, God answered. Why not invite her to her favorite restaurant for her birthday and lavish kindness upon her? Make no restrictions – any restaurant. Well, that sounded like an interesting suggestion even though I did wince about the possible high expense if she would choose an expensive place.  A neutral place like a restaurant might work to meet, I mused. How I longed to be given permission to enter her residence.

“Hi Zaina,” I phoned. I would like to invite you to your favorite restaurant to celebrate your birthday. Would you like that?” She immediately jumped at the invitation and chose which restaurant. Ed and I picked her up. She was waiting outside her house. That was as close as we could get. We decided to treat Zaina like a royal guest and spoil her big time.  “Choose anything you want on the menu, Zaina,” I urged. Yikes! When the waiter came it was a long list of food items ordered. She’ll never eat all that, I groaned. This will be a waste of money. Ed and I glanced at each other wondering if we had made a mistake.  I had heard the Spirit say “lavish her with kindness” so we did what He said. The waiter brought many dishes of food and placed them in front of her. She ate a portion from all of them and then realized she was full and couldn’t finish the rest. What a waste of money, I concluded. Zaina seemed oblivious to the expense. As we were taking her home I heard the Spirit say, “Now go to the grocery store and buy a gift card for her.” Oh my! I thought. More still? We ran into the store, bought a gift card, and then gave it to her. Again she seemed oblivious to the expense. By this time a sacred ministry of dispensing grace was rising up from deep within me like a cascading waterfall.
We dropped Zaina off in front of her house. That was as far as we could go. The invisible line of permission would prove to not move by her next birthday. Or the next. Now give her a big hug and tell her you love her, whispered the Spirit as I got out of the car to drop her off.  So far, nothing has changed in Zaina’s life. But I am being changed by understanding more of the grace of God. Frequently over the past thirty five years in Muslim ministry I have sensed that God is doing more in me than through me.    
Dear heavenly Father, please make me full of Your grace and then give me opportunities to dispense Your lavish grace whether my Muslim friends respond or not.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.