I held my mom's fragile hand in mine as we walked into a room filled with caskets. For a moment we both stood there, as if frozen, and gazed around. We were on a shopping trip...a terrible, gut wrenching shopping trip. The kind and compassionate, portly funeral director explained to us our different choices. There was everything from your very basic box, if you will, to the super deluxe steel casket.
I remember running my hand over the Cadillac box with it's shiny, cold, steel gray exterior and wondering who in the world would need that? From dust we came and to dust we will return. My dad was a simple kind of man. A no frills guy who liked vanilla ice cream. My dad worked with his hands and loved building things from wood. The cradle he had built for my two babies was and would continue to be a cherished heirloom. As if in unison, my mom and I decided on the chestnut colored wooden casket. Simple in design, it would be fitting for my dad.
I look back on that time and I think how in the world did I do what I did? It's been two years and the surreal experience is forever etched in my mind's eye. In a few days time we went from picking out caskets to picking songs and scripture; from meeting with everyone from the funeral director to the lawyer.
Quite simple, God gave me grace in the moment. I am an only child and for years I wondered, what on earth am I going to do when one of my parents passes away? It was a thought that haunted me and made me anxious. I couldn't fathom how I would get through it when that day would come. But God did not give me grace in the period of my waiting and anxiously wondering, He gave me grace for and in the moment.
There is not grace beforehand, there is only grace for the moment.
Grace is not offered in the "what ifs" but in the "what is".
Grace does not mean there will not be pain and anguish, but grace does promise peace for those who believe. Time and time again, grace and peace are joined together in the Bible. Paul started each of his letters with the greeting: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3) Peace comes hand in hand with grace.
Grace is only offered in the present tense. It is not in the beforehand. I realized all my worrying was for naught, because God gave me what I needed when I needed it. This experience has helped me to not fret and worry about how would I handle it if (fill in the blank)? We all dream up our worst nightmares and wonder how on earth would I get through that? It causes dread and panic because the wondering is void of grace. I know now that I can rest in God's promises.
I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. (John 14:18)
Ultimately, I must trust that God is good. This is where my heart rests. Through all the tests and trials that have come my way, God has been true to his promises and has showed up to give me grace and an underlying sense of peace. No good thing has He withheld.
For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss) and no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
So when does grace come? Grace comes for the moment...the moment our heart cries out to the Lord. It will never be easy (in this world you will have tribulation), but God promises He will answer with grace and peace that only He can give.