As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Amazing Grace

Last week a lady on one of my email loops commented that she hates when people use bad grammar and spelling in emails or posts to the loop. Several ladies responded with grace and suggested she consider that emails and posts are usually quickly typed communication of thoughts and not reviewed or formal correspondance.

In the course of the thread, there was conversation about pet peaves and weaknesses and the honesty of imperfection. For some of us, we interpreted the new direction as just general topic. Then somone--a woman of God with discernment and wisdom--interrupted and suggested we consider the impact of our ongoing conversation on others' feelings.

I reacted to her words with sarcasm and rejection. Not one of my finer moments. In fact, it was just flat ugly. Then I decided not to send the reply. However, in a moment of shock and shame, I saw my little cursor click on the "Send" button, and in a breath, the email was gone, unretrievable. At first I stared, mortified, at my computer screen. Then I put my head in my hands and cringed.

My response was horrible. It was shameful, and it was gone.

I don't know how long I sat there before I composed another email. An apology, and I typed and prayed the Lord would give the woman the heart to forgive my reprehensible comments.

The next morning, I sat outside having my quiet time, feeling ashamed. How could I be so...ugh? And as I sat there wallowing in pathetic-ness, I felt the Lord so close to me, and He said, "People will learn from you." Honestly, that is very honoring, but I'm hoping someone can learn from me without my having to do a Peter impersonation as an object lesson.

I tried to focus on my prayer time, but I wasn't sure how the woman of God had reacted to my email, and I didn't know when she would get my apology, and I didn't want her under the cloud of my stupidity. Fainlly, I checked email...and found a reply. She had graciously forgiven me, offering her own apology for her words. We were okay. I was relieved to be forgiven for being a stupid heel.

Because the offense had been public, I felt it appropriate to apologize publicly, and her response was public. The Lord restored peace for all to see, and I was so thankful. Maybe somone would learn from it.

Then I got another email, actually everyone on the loop did. An incredibly gracious woman complimented us on resolving our conflict and blessed us for it. She said some very nice things. I was stunned and so humbled. Humbled to be used by God. Humbled to be called godly by apologizing for something I should never have said. I don't know that "humble" even describes it. I don't know how to describe it. It is an amazement beyond words.

Over the next few days we had a few discussions about opinion and jugment, and I referred to the situation between the woman of God and myself. I hoped it would be an obvious example of two people with good and well-meaning hearts who have ugly moments and choose restoration over offense. I hoped it would demonstrate the importance of God's working in us to show Himself when our humanness is far too obvious.

I don't know if it did or not. I hope so.

Then tonight I returned home from a birthday party with the children and checked my email. I had another email from the woman of God who gave a solid word of correction at the right time, and she apologized again for any hurt she caused. It was so sincere, and I replied to assure her that we are fine, and we are. I admire her and her heart.

Then, I got an email from her that just...I just started to cry. Her words were so kind, so life-giving, so affirming and so gracious, so undeserved. I just started to cry. I'm crying now as I write about it.

In a tender voice, the Lord spoke to me. "You've asked me to give you understanding about the difference between performing well and grace. This is grace."

Grace. The life and blessing I surely don't deserve given by the very person I offended.

Yes, that is grace, and honestly, it is still more than I can understand, but I receive it with deepest gratitude, and I am thankful for the woman of God who had the heart to show me exactly what it looks like.

Honored to be her sister in Christ...


Robin said...

Great post! Something we can all learn from. Thanks for your humility in sharing it!

Susan said...

Wow, Jerri! Great post. Thanks for being so and on our email loop. I think the whole situation was handled in such a good way. I always learn from your have such way of using words that really makes one think. I don't mind being convicted through the words of someone so willing to be humble and transparent herself. You are a beautiful woman of God and I count myself blessed for knowing you!

Life Adapted said...

Hi Jerri, I read the beautiful prayer you left for Robin and decided to read your blog, I loved it! Be blessed.

Jerri Phillips said...

Life Adapted,

Thank you so much for coming by. I appreciate your comments, and I hope you come by again soon. Due to a lot of stuff going on (plays, house remodel, pictures, etc), I've been gone for a bit, but things are finally slowing down here, and I am again able to write. I hope to see you soon.

Have a glorious day!

Jerri Phillips said...

Thank you for your comments both here and via email. Your words were gifts of confirmation and affirmation, and I deeply appreciate your taking time to write.