38. Grace, The Gift Unasked For

Sometimes we’re given an unexpected unearned unasked-for gift that is God’s Grace. For me, more than once it has come in the darkest hours, to rescue me when I could not help myself. I’ve been blessed by Grace through unknowing angels. Like the spontaneous smiles from a young couple, strangers passing me on the sidewalk holding hands and obviously in love, that came at a time when my life was the loneliest it had ever been. Their small gift lifted my heart so profoundly. They had no way of knowing this, but that moment transcended a deep sorrow I was carrying, and they had lifted me out of it by the simple openhearted act of simply sharing with me the love they felt for each other.

In the recession of the 1980s, I went through a time when my life was financially, physically, and spiritually at rock-bottom. I was divorced and on my own, out of work or working temporary part-time jobs, struggling just to survive. I lived on oatmeal, boiled cabbage, and brown rice, I was in danger of losing my apartment for overdue rent, and I wore my coat indoors because the cost of heat was a luxury I simply could not afford. I had been desperate for more than a year and I felt helpless, alone, and devastated. I couldn’t see any way out, no matter how hard I tried.

Tears stung my face as I walked home from the bus stop on a bitter-cold November day, after applying for another job that I knew I would not get. It would have been a steady job in a doctor’s office, a new field, a new start – too good to be true, but I didn’t have any experience. I was thinking about my life, and about Life “with a capital L” and I was unable to hide the tears of hopelessness on my face, when a car drove by. I happened to look up and see its bumper sticker that said “Expect Miracles.”

There are lots of those bumper stickers around now, but at the time, I had never seen that phrase before. It struck me like a bolt of lightning, and in an instant I knew that this simple message was intended for me, exactly at this moment in time, when I needed it most. It was not “by chance” and somehow I knew that. I felt a sense of release, and I just let go of it all. I felt a strange moment of peace, and I decided  to trust God for whatever came. A few days later, I did get that job, I began a new career, and my life would never be the same.

Coincidence? The book “A Course in Miracles” says “There are no accidents, and no coincidences.”  I had been given a little glimmer of Grace, through a stranger who never even saw me, and he never knew that he had been used by God to bless me and to promise a beginning that would change my life.

Grace is the gift unasked for, even undared to hope for. Grace is the often undeserved, but deeply needed and longed-for reprieve. Grace is the unexplainable moving of God to bless us in spite of ourselves. Grace is when God cheats a little, to help us pass the test, lifts us out of the quicksand we have blundered into, and sets us on a higher ground where we can have a better place to begin again.

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