Fear and Grace

When I was a kid, almost every night while I was in bed, I prayed for God to keep my mom alive long enough to see me grow up.  Losing my mother was my biggest fear.

It was a legitimate fear.  She was born with a hole in her heart.  Major heart surgery came when she was a teenager.  A little later on, she got sick while carrying her first child.  She recovered but he didn’t.

By the time I came along, things weren’t much better.  In grade school, it was common for me to have to stay with friends or other family while she was in the hospital.  Just before I graduated from high school she told me that she had some disease that I had never heard of before.  At the time, I didn’t think things were all that serious.

I was wrong.

There were many nights when my mom woke up in severe pain with her entire body locked up.  It was like her muscles were turning on her.  There was nothing I could do to help.  I was wrestling with that same childhood fear.  All I could do was pray.

“God, please heal my mom.”

I’ll never forget the time that I told my mom that she would have to go to a nursing home.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  We moved around a lot when I was growing up.  That nursing home would be her last address.

My wife and I were about to leave for vacation when we got the call that mom was not doing well.  Instead of driving to the beach, we made the 45 minute drive to see my mom.  She wasn’t going to make it.  I thought about what I would tell her when I got there.

I never got the chance.

Just a few minutes before I saw her, my mom died.  My biggest childhood fear became a reality.  But there was a lot of grace that came along with that reality.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV)

While we prayerfully wrestle with our fears of what might happen, God is silently reminding us that his grace is enough for us.  When those fears come running through our front door, God is showing us, loudly and powerfully, that his grace is enough.

Last night my mother’s grandsons, two small boys that she never got to meet, were afraid.  The youngest was afraid of “going up in the sky” when it’s time to see Jesus.  The oldest had a bad dream.  I didn’t tell either one of them that there was nothing to fear.  There’s plenty to be afraid of.  Instead, I told both of them that Jesus is bigger than their fear.

When I prayed over my oldest son after his bad dream, I asked God to show him the grace and power of Jesus Christ.

I hope I live long enough to see Brenda Sanders’ grandsons grow up and learn that Jesus’ grace is enough.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross                                                                            

Grace Greater Than Our Sin, Julia Johnston