Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Open My Eyes - 1/20/2016

An Arkie's Faith column from the January 20, 2016 issue of The Mena Star.

Just before Christmas I was at Subway and ordered a sandwich for lunch. As I was standing in line I was visiting with a customer of mine who was in line just ahead of me. When my customer payed for his lunch, he pointed to me and said, “I’m paying for his sandwich too”.

I was blown away. That had never happened to me before. I thanked him and he said, “Merry Christmas”. His kindness really made my day. It had been a rough morning at work, but after experiencing this unexpected thoughtfulness my spirits were lifted.

As I was eating my lunch and appreciating the gift that had been given to me a couple of thoughts came to mind. The first was how much we can impact the lives of others by even small kindnesses and thoughtfulness. The other was how much the experience had made an impression on me, but that God showed me kindness and thoughtfulness every day and I hardly even noticed.

There is a story in the Bible about the prophet Elisha that shows that I am not alone in being unaware of what God is doing for me. You can find the story in 2 Kings Chapter 6. The King of Aram is at war with Israel.  Somehow the King of Israel is aware of every move he makes. The King of Aram thinks he must have a traitor in his ranks passing information to the Israelites. His men tell him that it’s not one of his own men, but it is Elisha, the prophet from Israel. They said, “Elisha even knows what you say in the privacy of your bedroom”. The king sent horses, chariots, and many troops to Dothan to capture Elisha. They arrived at night and surrounded the city.

We pick up the story in 2 Kings 6:15-17(NCV),  “Elisha’s servant got up early, and when he went out, he saw an army with horses and chariots all around the city. The servant said to Elisha, “Oh, my master, what can we do?” Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. The army that fights for us is larger than the one against us.” Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, open my servant’s eyes, and let him see.” The Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

We are often totally unaware of how God is protecting us. When things aren’t going well for us we are very aware, but when things are going smoothly we don’t stop to think about God and how He is blessing us.

Grace often pops up in places that I never expect it. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that boldly stated "Grace Happens". It is true. Grace happens. It happens all around us. Often we are too busy to notice. I never thought that that someone would pay for my sandwich.

I think that is a key to understanding grace. Christians focus on the fact that grace is undeserved. That is true, it is undeserved. If you deserved it, it wouldn't be grace. But not only is it undeserved, it is unexpected.

That is what Paul is trying to get us to see when he wrote in Ephesians 3:8(NKJV), "to me, who am less than the least deserving of all the saints, this grace was given". He seems to be almost unable to believe that grace was offered to him. It was unexpected. Maybe that is why he talks about grace more than any other Bible writer.

Gentle Reader, look for the unexpected today. Ask God to open your eyes. Look for grace in unexpected places. I know that you will find it. Paul tells us in 1Timothy 1:14(NKJV), "the grace of our Lord is exceedingly abundant".

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