Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Grrr! (01/28/10)
TITLE: Grumpy's Plea for Grace
By Joan Campbell
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If she impatiently lashes out at humans, she is downright vicious with our younger cat. She hisses whenever he comes near her and attacks him as he tries to sneak past her. She strikes out, scratches him and generally makes his life miserable.
Tango has a grumpy “Grrr! attitude” to life.
Our cat is not the only grumpy animal I’ve observed today. A round bird feeder hangs in a shady tree in my garden and I often watch with delight as six or seven birds squeeze together to feed from its seed...until the Weaver arrives.
The male Masked Weaver, with his bright yellow feathers, is the prettiest bird in my garden. I admire him as he tirelessly works on weaving together a nest, and am always a little sad when I reach my garden bench and see the remains of his hard work scattered on the ground. Oh dear - another one rejected!
His mate surely classifies as a “hard to please female”. If she finds his nest is not completely up to scratch, she will tear it down, and he will be forced to start again. With a partner like that, who can truly blame him for his grouchiness?
When the Weaver arrives at the feeder, he immediately lashes out at all the other birds, pecking at them until they fly away and he has the feeder all to himself. The avian counterpart to Tango, he too has a “Grrr! attitude”.
I realise, in a rare moment of self honesty, that I have my own “Grrr!” moments.
Some of these occur as I navigate through busy city traffic - shouting at strangers who cut me off or taxi’s who unload passengers in “no-stopping” zones.
Worse are the ones I inflict on my family – yelling at my children when we’re running late for school or my husband when he’s home late for dinner.
Many more of these moments are internal, unspoken, ones that only God is witness to. Usually they are linked to my impatience or my desire to manage my own time. Such as when a friend phones in an emergency and asks me to baby-sit, or the church secretary asks if I can help out at the prayer vigil. Often these “interruptions” are at times when I already have my own plans, and although I may say “Sure,” inside it sounds more like “Grrr!”
Jesus never had this attitude. He would stop to heal a man with leprosy calling from the crowd. He spent time blessing young children who others considered an annoyance. He turned to seek out a woman who touched his robe. He had time and love for everyone in need, and never considered them an interruption.
The only word Jesus knew that started with “Gr..” was grace.
A friend who is a pastor has a delightful expression. His aim in life, he says, is to be a “Gutter for God’s grace.” A gutter, he goes on to say, is not particularly attractive. It draws no attention to itself. Yet it has the vital function of carrying excess water from one area to another. In order to function well, a gutter needs to be clean. The moment it becomes clogged up with leaves or debris, it blocks the flow of water.
I realise my selfish, unloving attitude is one of those hindrances to God’s flow of grace in my life. God has ‘cleaned’ me out, or sanctified me, not to look good, but to be used in his service of channelling love and grace to others.
So I go down on my knees again and ask for more “Gr…,” not the kind displayed by Tango or the Weaver, or myself in my least Christ-like moments, but rather God’s grace. How great is my need for His grace - to forgive me daily for my many failings and to transform my selfishness into genuine love.
And to pour into me till it overflows and I truly become a “Gutter for God’s grace” in a dry and thirsty land.
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38 (NIV)
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