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Ripple Effects of Grace

“I don’t wanna abuse Your grace.

God, I need it every day.

It’s the only thing that ever really

makes me wanna change…”

 These lyrics from We The Kingdom, “Holy Water,” were on repeat in my mind as I ran, er, was dragged on a run, with my dog a few nights ago.

It’s the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change.

Wait. The very grace that forgives us is a grace that transforms us?

I knew as I was running, er, being dragged on a run by my dog, that I had some work to do.

There are a few people who I need to forgive.

One situation in particular involves the home in which my late husband, Dan, and I raised our children. I made the mistake a few years ago of deciding to rent it out. Now, I knew there were risks, I did. I knew. But I felt the need for us to leave this home stronger than the need to hang back to continue to try to sell it. I had tried for more than a year.

Besides, the property managers I had in place to watch over it promised all would be just…fine.

But let me say again, I had a bad feeling. And, I am learning bad feelings are a gift from God too. Intuition is a gift. Learning where to trust intuition over logic is key.

Well, fast forward a few years…and I was the owner of a home completely destroyed by renters, under the management of people who seemed to not care. A home with a mortgage in my name. Not just debt, but scary debt, because I had little control over what had happened to the home.

How could they? Who treats property that doesn’t belong to them like that? I was heartbroken as I surveyed the damage, visible from the outside and discovered mostly by a roofer I sent in to do work after a strong Midwestern storm.

He found…are you ready…bullets in the roof material. “I can’t imagine what the inside looks like,” he said. “Who is living in your home?”

This was last Spring. The year and a half that followed was a roller coaster ride of promises from the managers or tenants to have the property repaired, to purchasing it, to them…washing their hands of it…to…well, it goes on.

“Every time I hear you mention your friend Dave, I hear ‘advocate,’” my friend, Erin, said.

We were sitting on her couch in St. Louis, lamenting the situation, considering solutions. She is one of my best friends, and the wife of our worship leader back home. She’s the kind of friend who gets mad with you. Or sad. OR…celebrates with you. Erin has the kind of empathy that melts into your situation to the point that you can’t tell who this is really happening to, but you know you are not alone.

The Dave she mentioned is another incredible friend who happens to be an attorney. Now, I didn’t want to sue anyone, no. Dave had been my advocate on many occasions, but never any that included a court case.

I met Dave not long after his son, Colin, passed away in 2006. Colin was only 19, and Dave had begun a foundation in his honor. I can’t imagine this kind of loss. No parent can even allow their mind to go there, because it’s so painful. Dave and I became quick friends, and I was honored to help serve with his foundation, making some connections for him through my work in radio. My husband passed away just a few years later, and grief would become another connection between us.

With Dave as my “advocate,” and a whole community of people praying, there was recently…just weeks ago…a miraculous answer to the home mess.

One of the managing partners began to come up with a solution to purchase the home. A solution I was sure would never happen.

I felt like I was in a long line at Six Flags, just waiting to get on another ride, a coaster that would probably take a tremendous dive as I came unbuckled, and would throw me into some neighboring woods where bears would eat me. Do bears eat people? I don’t know for sure, but in my head that is what was about to happen.

Dave, the advocate, gave him just a short window of time to show this was authentic: fourteen days.

And, he met the deadline.

After nearly two years of anxiety and fear, tears and anger, it was over. The manager purchased the home.

I was so in disbelief, I had to call the mortgage company. Seven times.

 “Your debt,” said a woman wearing an audible smile, “has been paid in full.”

The conversations with the property manager who brought the solution are now laced with apology and thankfulness that we never sued, that we gave him this opportunity to redeem himself, and make the situation right.

“Thank you SO much for your grace.”  Those were his words. Thank you for MY grace? I’d felt less than graceful throughout the process.

As I ran, er, was dragged on a run with my dog, it hit me:

Our doling out of grace, our offer of forgiveness, runs deeper and wider than a command, an example on the cross, and a clean slate for us. The very grace WE offer can change hearts.

This certainly didn’t sound like the same property manager I’d spoken to at the start of this painful process. This was a man softened by a trial, thoughtful because of all the thinking, changed by grace.

So when my friend Erin asked me after all this was finally over, a nearly two year struggle, “But still, what was the purpose?” I wondered if it had to do with something God was accomplishing within me and all involved. And I believe that’s correct, and I also believe we won’t even know the extent of God’s work within our hardships this side of Heaven, because it’s so much bigger than we could ever understand.

I’m thankful it’s all over, and even more thankful to get a clear view of the change that can happen when God’s grace is paid forward.

“It’s the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change.”

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