We had just returned from the best camping experience our family had ever had. And tent camping at that. With a baby even! Pedernales Falls in the hill country of Texas was a life-giving retreat for this tired mama. Pictures don’t capture the beauty, nor do they convey the sweet, rich, forest air and the sounds of the strange autumn insects. And the stars! We could actually see them!
Being there I could feel God’s grace with every sense of my being.
But when trouble comes I forget it completely. God’s grace becomes obscure and hard to remember. Upon our return from Pedernales, we were greeted grimly with a letter that left us breathless. A letter that reminded us of the past we had fought so hard to conquer and to forget. A letter that sneered at us with a sinister smile that chased away the hope and the grace.
Debt. It was a letter from a collection agency demanding money for one of the real estate properties that had been foreclosed on last year. And not a little bit of money either.
We reeled and scrambled to make sense of it all and to ascertain the validity of it and to seek out help. And in the end we discovered that when banks foreclose on a property and it is then resold, if the sale doesn’t completely cover the original mortgage, the banks reserve the right to pursue you personally for the difference. The letter we received was concerning only one of the properties and there were eight that were foreclosed on. Would the banks come after us for the difference of all eight of the houses? We had thought that with the banks reclaiming all of the properties there would be no more settlements. But we were gravely mistaken.
The dark cloud of discouragement descended. Now it mattered not how faithful we had been with our finances nor how much we had given to missionaries or to the poor or how many good deeds we had done or how much we had gone without in order to be debt-free, a concept so foreign in this country- Because of poor decisions made a very long time ago, we were in bondage to a great debt. And nothing good that we had done since that point so early on in our marriage seemed to matter.
I went for a run, as I usually do when I need to rant and rave at God. With my feet pounding the pavement I reminded God of all the good that we had done. I reminded Him of Jason’s faithfulness and his loyalty and his righteousness. How this just wasn’t fair. Wasn’t how we should be treated. And in my despondency I cried out, “Show me a sign of your goodness! Anything, but I need to see it right now!” And I was desperate.
Immediately I looked up and down the way on the other side of the street was my daughter Adeline.
My breath caught and my heart started to beat even quicker. I shook my head and my mouth curved slowly up as I wondered at the timing of it all. I waved and she saw me and started running toward me. I ran to her as well.
“Mommy,” she said, before I could say a word, “Thaddaeus just asked Jesus to be his Savior!”
Tears blurred as she told me how they were having a conversation that led into her sharing the good news of the gospel with her little brother and that he responded to it by asking Jesus to save him from his sin.
“Addie,” I said, incredulous, “I just asked God (ordered was more like it) to show me a sign of His goodness and He gives me this! My son coming to Jesus and my daughter leading him!”
That God would answer my prayer with something so blessedly precious is more than I deserve. Oh His grace!
And then tonight. After another week of forgetting about God’s grace and being sucked back into the agony of worry over debt and my health and the fatigue of life, after losing sight of His abundant grace, He blesses me again. And I have the privilege of leading my firstborn son, Jeremiah to the cross. And in his own way and in his own words, the words of a child, he prays to the God of the universe and invites His Son into his life to free him from the bondage of sin.
And as I describe it to him, things become clearer for me. “It doesn’t matter how good you’ve been or what good things you’ve done. You cannot earn your way to God. All you do is trust that Jesus’ death on the cross is enough to bring you to God. His blood alone covers all your sin.”
It’s like that real estate debt. Nothing good that we have done is enough to cancel out the magnitude of our sin before a holy God. We are in desperate need of a miracle.
But look! Grace abounds! “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners!” Romans 5:8
Even real estate debt pales in comparison to the great future we have in Christ. Romans 5:10 goes on to say, “And since, when we were His enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of His Son, what blessings He must have for us now that we are His friends, and He is living within us!”
He is working all of this for our good. We must believe that. We must fight to recover our joy even in the midst of financial insecurity. He is so good to us and has chosen to bless us even in our doubt.
May we press on and not lose sight of the goodness of the Lord.