By now many of you know that when I walk around the campus of JCPC, I often find baseballs on or around the church ballfield. My collection continues to grow as I keep them on a bookshelf in my office until I find some reason to give them away. Monday I was out walking the campus between meetings and I made my way over to the ballfield, expecting to find at least one baseball. But when I looked across the brown grass of the outfield and the red clay dirt of the infield, there were no baseballs. Not even one! I was surprised and disappointed. I had come to assume that there would always be at least one.
For some reason, I began to think about this in terms of grace. As a preacher, I tend to look for hidden meanings in everything - it is an occupational hazard. I thought about how often I had found baseballs when I did not expect them. But here I was expecting and even assuming I would find one, and there were none.
In life I have come to realize that grace comes most often when it is not expected. It is God's unmerited, and I would add unexpected favor. Grace is not something you assume - it is pure gift - and often unexpected. I think that if the gift were something we expected God to give us - then it would not be grace. I am not sure what it would be, but I don't think it would be grace.
The interesting thing is that after I thought about this gift of baseballs in terms of grace, I came to the belief that I would probably not be finding any baseballs that day. Then lo and behold, I came across a bunch of them - when I did not expect it! Again, grace usually happens when we do not expect it.
This Sunday, as we continue to talk about the 23rd Psalm during the season of Lent, I am reminded of one of our hymns based on that Psalm which says, He brings my wandering spirit back when I forsake my ways, and leads me, for his mercy's sake, in paths of truth and grace. (My Shepherd Will Supply My Need) May God lead you in paths of truth and grace this day!
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, we often wander off the right paths and forsake your ways. Lead us back to your paths of truth and grace, that we may live fully this day the life you desire for us. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.