Confession #149: Is Grace A Luxury All Can Afford?
You know that story in the Bible where Jesus graciously pardons the woman who was about to be stoned to death for her sins? “Whoever is without sin can cast the first stone,” he told the crowd. And one by one the rocks in their hands fell to the ground. Not one was blameless.
It’s a profound story. One that I feel has often been ignored throughout history. To see a woman, an outcast, an adulterer given grace and a second chance is often unheard of in many cultures. Haiti is one such culture.
Yesterday I sat with a friend on my porch. To respect her privacy I shall keep her name and the details to her story anonymous. I have known this friend for a long time, still there is so much of her life that I am just now uncovering. Speaking with her, listening to her morn the events of her life with such regret, my heart shattered.
Looking at her, all I could think about was the adulterous woman in the Bible. Not necessarily because that was the sin of my friend, but because I wished Jesus was physically there on my porch. I wanted him to be there to bend down, hold her chin in the palm of his hand, and tell her she has been forgiven. I wanted him to stand up to all the people who keep throwing stones of hate, disgust, and judgment her way. And I wanted him to hold her and tell he she is not alone in this world. Though her family and friends have abandoned her, he is forever by her side.
I know Jesus was there with us on the porch. I felt him there and spoke with him in the times of silence, asking for his guidance. But I wanted her to see him and to be assured he was still with her.
My friend, just like all of us, just like me, has made mistakes. Mistakes that those men in the Bible would have wanted to stone us for. But here I stand happy and successful while she is alone and hopeless.
Why the difference?
I, unlike my friend, grew up with parents who graciously loved me no matter what. I am from a culture in which people graciously get second chances all the time. As long as you are willing to work hard, you can pick yourself up and start over. And I had the resources, although not expansive, to make mistakes and still be okay. My friend, on the other hand, has not had such graces. Raised in an orphanage she does not have a family to love her no matter what and she is from a culture where second chances are only for those who can afford them.
Last night I could barely sleep. Her face running through my mind, I was restless. Her story pressed hard on my heart and my heart ached all night long.
Although grace is a gift Jesus purchased on the cross for all, grace does not often come free for many people around the world. So many people have stones in their hands. And so many people live in places where their sins are not easily forgiven. And what happens is this: A beautiful young girl messes up and becomes an outcast because of it.
The grace I have received in my life has been a luxury. The fact that I have never known a life without grace and second chances means I have been blessed beyond all measure. But my poor sweet friend has not had such luxury. And it just doesn’t seem fair.
I know my story today is very vague, still I want to ask for you to pray for my dear friend. She is tired and weary and the world has not always been so kind to her. People may have not thrown literal stones at her, but the stones they have thrown ever since she was a child have caused grave damage to her heart. God’s grace is sufficient for her, yes. Of this I am certain. But her spirit also needs the grace of others to help lift her back up. Grace, I have come to understand, is one of the greatest gifts you can give another person. Today my prayer is that the gift of grace can start with me. Will you pray with me?