GRACE and Starbucks…

Yesterday was my younger daughter’s birthday. Today’s post, entitled GRACE and Starbucks, is dedicated to Sarah, a wonderful daughter, wife, mama and 4th-grade teacher, plus a woman who exhibits much grace—and, like her mom, enjoys Starbucks!

     I know. I write often about GRACE! That’s because I never cease being amazed by the sweetness of God’s grace.

     I had a unique thought about grace while wrapping Christmas gifts a couple weeks ago. Let me try unwrapping the story.

     It began at a Starbucks in Williamsburg, Virginia last October. We were on vacation, and I wanted to return with a “Been There…” mug to add to Sarah’s collection.

     As is often the case, Starbucks was very busy, and I needed to wait in line. When my turn came, I placed an order—iced coffee for Ron, an iced green tea for me, plus Sarah’s mug.

     I pulled out my phone, ready to pay with the Starbucks app, when a lady standing next to me told the employee at the checkout counter, “Here, I’m getting that for her!”

     I have occasionally done a random act of kindness, but this was the first time I’d been the recipient. Several months later, the encounter still makes me smile.

     The mug was one of Sarah’s Christmas gifts. As I wrapped her present, I revisited the Virginia incident. Perhaps it was because it was Christmas, but my thoughts transcended the generosity of a stranger.

     Grace thoughts came to mind as I wrapped–cutting paper, taping, affixing a sparkly bow and adding a snowman gift tag: To: Sarah; From: Mom.

     em>This is an example of “First-World” grace.

     Over-priced drinks from a hip Seattle coffee company are excessive. Although I knew the gift would bring Sarah pleasure, it certainly wasn’t a necessity. My daughter already has a cupboard filled with trendy mugs.

     I’m glad God doesn’t withhold grace because I’ve been blessed to live in an affluent land. I sure don’t deserve such grace.

     But, wait! Isn’t that what grace is all about—the divine gift of receiving what I don’t deserve?

     Even after Sarah’s gift was wrapped, I couldn’t shake the thought of “First-World” grace. I’m aware of abject conditions experienced by millions living in “Third-World” poverty. I’m acquainted with the horrors of a little girl being sold as a sex slave because destitute parents can’t afford to feed her.

     My prayer following these thoughts was in the form of this question:

     Lord, what do you want me to do with these thoughts other than to give you thanks?

     Immediately, three organizations I know work hard to alleviate “Third-World” suffering came to mind. Go into your office and write each a check. I felt certain the thought came not from goodness in my heart, but from the heart of a good God who has lavished much grace upon me.

     As I placed Sarah’s Starbuck package under the tree, I realized layers of grace were represented in that one small gift.

     First, the grace-filled memory of a stranger who blessed me.

          Next, Christmastime reminded me her grace reflected God’s grace.

               Finally, recalling God’s grace led me to a gracious action.

     There is nothing simple about God, and there is nothing simple about grace.

     Grace enables us to trek through some dreadful seasons.

     Grace gives courage when our situations are terrifying.

     Grace nudges us to forgive grievous wrongs.

     John Newton wrote ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.’ Holy ‘fear’ convinced Newton to surrender his life to God and leave behind his involvement in vile slave trade.

     Then, there are times of sweet, simple “First-World” grace like I discovered at Starbucks. Grace stirring me to show grace to others.

     My Starbucks discovery illustrates that planting a seed of grace has the potential to grow more grace.

     As we enter a new year, I pray you and I will be recipients of God’s great grace and in turn, we’ll be givers of much grace to all whose journeys intersect ours.

Happy birthday, Sarah (and Karol, my sister who shares the same birthdate) & NEW YEAR blessings to ALL!

Sue Reeve

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