Invitations to Grace

First published 9th June 2016

Yesterday afternoon I was due to meet a colleague for coffee. I had rushed from one meeting to the next all morning and arrived on time to find my usually prompt colleague was not there. A few text messages back and forth revealed that there had been some confusion over the time of our meeting and I hadtwenty or so minutes to wait until he arrived.

My immediate response was to get out my phone and begin to check my emails, keen to make the most of this wasted time. However, then came the nudge so subtle and insubstantial that it disappears when you try to look directly at it. The gentle tug/pull/call of an invitation to grace.

Uncharacteristically, I put my phone away and paid attention to my surroundings. I immediately noticed that my shoulders were tense and I was frowning.

As I relaxed and breathed, I watched the leaves swirl around the carpark and delighted in the suns warmth on my face. I enjoyed the sight of several birds surfing on the thermal currents and the trees swaying in the breeze. In a very ordinary way, I was quietly reconnected with the life and love of God which pulses throughout his creation.

Following the meeting, I returned home, determined to log on to my computer having been away from my desk all day. Just as I was heading to my study, my middle daughter asked if I could take her out on her new bike which she received the other week for her 5th birthday.

My usual response would have been, Yes, in a little while, let me just check my emails first. However, with my grace encounter still fresh in my soul, I chose to let the emails wait.

lydia bike

Over the nextthirty minutes, I unexpectedly witnessed my daughter go from not being able to ride a bike without stabilizers, to confidently zooming around the carpark on two wheels.

This involved rather a lot of stooping, running and panicking on my part, but the delight on her face as she realised she had mastered it was something I will remember for many years to come.

The joy I felt as we walked home together was paralleled by a convicting feeling of inadequacy that I might have missed that moment had I made a different choice earlier in the afternoon.

Had God said to me outside the coffee shop, Put your phone away and pray right now, otherwise you will miss a significant moment in your daughters life today I would have been obedient and done what God said (I hope!), but his invitation was much more subtle and therefore so easy to miss.

I am reminded of Moses, noticing the burning bush, and paying attention just long enough to see the strange sight of a bush on fire but not burning up (Exodus 3:3). Verse 4 goes on to say When the Lord saw that (Moses) had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush. It was only once Moses had turned aside that God called him. God was not shouting Moses to get his attention. Rather, God offered a strange invitation of a bush on fire, and waited to see what Moses would do.

How many invitations to grace have I missed in my life because I am so intent upon my own agenda? How many invitations to grace might you have missed?

What might be different in our lives and in the world if we had noticed these invitations and responded?

There are undoubtedly immense pressures on so manyof usin different professions and roles, and always more to be done than time or capacity to do it. However, there are choices that we have responsibility for within that. Grace is abundant and free, but we have to chooseit grace will not pin us down and force us to respond.

The good news is that God's grace abounds for each new day, if we would just lift our eyes and notice.

The strength to choose to respond is itself a grace of God. What if we made a commitment to pray for/look for/seek to choose grace at least once a day? What might God do in and through us as a result?

I will get around to my emails, and all the other important work of my role, but for now, I am so grateful that my daughter can ride a bike, and that by God's grace, I was there to see it. Perhaps reading this is your invitation to switch off your computer and enter into God's grace.

How will you respond?

Helen Collins

Adviser for Licensed Ministry

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