Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
- TITLE: Finding Grace
By Lisa Johnson
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Grady was spending his evening the same way he’d spent every evening since he had retired. Sitting alone. In the dark. In an empty house.
Grady tried to remember the last time the house had not been empty. The last time his phone had rung. The last time someone he cared about cared about him. He guessed it was before Grace, his wife of forty years, had passed.
It was his own fault, really, and he knew it all too well. Retirement had given him plenty of time to reflect back on his life. What he saw on these dark, lonely nights spent in retrospection was ugly. A life filled with mistakes, lost chances, and regret.
He did not put much stock in it at the time. Didn’t know what all of the fuss was about, when Grace’s family had warned her about being “unequally yoked.” Grace would just smile sweetly, and say that she knew Grady would find God when the time was right.
He reflected on their wedding vows. He and Grace had promised to love each other “in sickness and in health” and “for richer or poorer.” He looked back in shame at the many times he’d complained about Grace always being sick. She had never complained about being poor. She always found a way to be content despite their circumstances.
He had been unfaithful… cheated on her at least two times that she had known of. In his heart, he knew that there’d been more…but she forgave him. He knew he had hurt her, but she never let on just how much.
When they had kids, he had thrown himself into his work. He always said it was because he had a family to support. Truth was he enjoyed being away from home much more than he enjoyed being at home. Grace said it was because he found too much fault in his family… expected them to be perfect, when he himself was not.
Lord knows, his kids had made their share of mistakes. He felt betrayed by the choices they made in life. His anger burned brightly inside, becoming embers of resentment that smoldered constantly. It did not take much to fan those embers back into a roaring flame.
Grace had always wanted big family gatherings for the holidays. She loved having all the “in-laws” and the “out-laws” to the house for a big “family” meal. It never failed that those “happy” gatherings always disintegrated into an ugly scene. He would wind up yelling. The kids would wind up leaving. Grace would wind up in tears. He’d wind up telling Grace, “There you go crying again.”
Grace had warned him that he would end up being a lonely, bitter old man if he kept pushing his family away. She always had a Bible verse to throw up at him. “Judge not lest ye be judged”, “love covers a multitude of sins”, “God won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others.” He would just call her “preachy” and turn a deaf ear to what she was saying.
He had thought his life would be perfect if it could just be him and Grace again. But, Grace was gone. So, he sat in the dark, in an empty house, spending his retirement… alone.
In his mind, he could hear Grace’s voice… “Grady, as long as there is breath in a body, there is time to get right with God. God will be there for you when you’re ready for a change”.
Grady knew that he needed a change. He did not want to spend the rest of his retirement days regretting what might have been.
Grady fell to his knees. It was an unfamiliar position, but it felt right. He poured his heart out to God. Tears fell as he confessed his many sins. A sense of peace flooded his being as he accepted the forgiveness so freely offered.
He stood to his feet a new man. Grace… his sweet Grace… had helped him find God’s grace. With God’s grace, he knew that he would not have to face the rest of his retirement years alone. With shaking hands, he picked up the phone…
“Son, it’s me…Dad…”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mattthew 7:11 (NIV)
1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)
Matthew 6:15 (NIV)
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