What Grace Looks Like

This was originally posted February 17, 2011 from Florida while we were on Sabbatical.  I thought of it because so many people seem grace-less during the busy holiday season.

Yesterday a close friend flew down and will be here for the last two weeks of our stay. She is six feet tall and model–like.  Beautiful on the outside, but if possible, her spirit is even more beautiful.

She travels a lot. Because she is tall and also often has to get up on long flights she always reserves an aisle seat.

Yesterday when she got to her seat on the crowded flight there was a large man sitting there.

He looked at her.

He didn’t move.

He didn’t offer to move.

He didn’t apologize.

He was very…UNgracious.

Now I think my friend truly has one facial expression, and that is one of grace.

She smiled at this guy with love and asked, “Where is your seat?”

He pointed back a row to a middle seat, still making no move or apology.

His real seat was a middle seat with two large men, one sitting on either side.

“Would you like to stay here and have me take your seat?” she asked.

“Yeah.” was his response.

So she did. She squeezed into the middle seat between the guys, like me trying to fit into size 6 jeans.  She took the middle seat for the long flight .

If it had been me I might have grudgingly remembered “As you do it to the least of these you do it to me…”

Consequently I might have taken the crummy seat with an exasperated, I-can’t-believe-you’re-such-a-jerk air.

At t the very least I would have given the guy what John calls “the glare”.

But here’s the thing…As my friend told this story it wasn’t with anger, or frustration or self-righteousness.  She saw it as a delightful opportunity.

The guy in her seat gave her less than nothing.

She gave him what he didn’t deserve.

That’s what grace looks like.  It doesn’t make sense, kind of like math doesn’t make sense to me.  It doesn’t add up.

Grace looks like Jesus.

Now that might not seem like a big deal, but to me it’s the small glimpses of grace that make a huge impact on me because they’re so…inconvenient.

The opportunities are so “every day.”

When we think about grace we usually think of Jesus’ death on the cross in our place. Dramatic. Humanly impossible.

But I wonder about the everyday pictures Jesus gave his disciples of what grace looks like.

When standing in line at the market.

In a crowd at the end of a long hot day when everyone was hungry.

When someone took His seat.

I read a quote this morning. Dorotheos of Gaza, a 6th century teacher wrote “…there is no way to move toward God without drawing closer to people, and no way to approach other people without coming nearer to God.”

I think in that moment on the plane my friend did both.

What are some instances of small ordinary grace you’ve extended or observed this holiday season?

I'd love to hear from you and others will be enriched by your thoughts! Share here and continue the conversation.

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