Normally, I begin writing Thursday’s blog post the Friday before. Instead of writing today’s post last weekend, though, my husband and I traveled to Seattle on a road-trip-with-a-purpose. We’d agreed to watch our two youngest grandkiddos on Saturday so mama and daddy could enjoy their 11th wedding anniversary sans the two delightful, sometimes demanding children.
Since my current blog theme has been on “Values,” weekend thoughts turned toward that theme often. I was reminded. Values aren’t only theoretical. Values determine how the rubber of my faith meets the road of my life journey.
One of my core values is graciousness. Now, mind you, oftentimes this value is more ‘aspirational’ than ‘actual!’ (See http://suereeve.com/valuing-god-confidence/ for additional clarification.) Practical faith, however, helped me tap into that core value this past weekend. First, I realized,
Sometimes graciousness must be valued more than my own plans and convenience.
This trip was unplanned and unbudgeted. A Jesus-story I return to often at times like this is found in Luke 7:11-17. Jesus was traveling to the city of Nain with a group of folks when their travel was interrupted by a funeral procession. A widow’s only son had died. Scripture tells us Jesus’ “heart went out to [the widow].” He allowed previous plans to be interrupted and stopped to raise the woman’s son to new life.
My value of graciousness in no way compares to that of Jesus, but the point I want to emphasize is that great examples raise the bar and help us refine core values to which we aspire.
Then, I was reminded,
Graciousness values ‘unity’ more than ‘uniformity.’
The sermon on Sunday prior to our Seattle trip was entitled “Unity Lived Out.” A young pastor delivered the message, which was part of a series from Ephesians. Jared made two points I thought were powerful despite their simplicity:
- “Unity comes from within while uniformity comes from outside.”
- “Unity requires diversity.”
The Apostle Paul, tasked by God to promote unity within the early Christian church, wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 NIV)
Since I enjoy experiencing different cultures and tend to embrace rather than disparage differences, this isn’t generally an area of concern for me. But, I was reminded last weekend, graciousness requires personal choice and is a prerequisite to promoting a spirit of unity.
Seattle, especially during tourist season, is much more diverse than the North Idaho hamlet in which we reside. Graciousness is required when I don’t understand the language or cultural norms of those with whom I share space. Even the difference in driving and parking stretch one’s value of graciousness!
Finally, I realized, no matter how well honed,
My graciousness is nothing but a mere reflection of God’s amazing grace!
Throughout our Seattle-area weekend, I was aware of God’s graciousness. Ron captured snippets of divine grace in these photos:
After enjoying a delicious seafood meal Friday, Ron and I experienced God’s graciousness in a sun set over Lake Washington.
Cranes getting ‘prettied up!’
Giraffe (my favorite animal!)
Magnificent birds and animals—all exhibits of God’s gracious creation were on display at Woodland Park Zoo. After waiting in line for almost an hour to see two rhinoceros, a zookeeper announced the wild animals had decided to stop cooperating. Instead, two hot, tired grandkids cooperated by posing for a picture in front of an exhibit poster.
Luscious organic nectarines
Masses of brilliantly-colored summertime flowers
Sunday morning, we explored Ballard. Colorful fruits, veggies and flowers—exhibits of God’s gracious bounty—were beautifully displayed at the Farmer’s Market. Finally, before a departure seafood lunch, we visited the impressive Ballard Locks.
Remember my earlier reference to parking? Everywhere we went, this was a challenge. Four different times, we asked God to bless us with a parking spot—not because we feel entitled but because we believe God delights in giving good gifts to His children. Believe me, in the Seattle region, a good parking spot is a good gift! Each time we asked, we found a great spot. Again, God’s graciousness was revealed. (BTW, God has not ALWAYS answered my prayer in the same way, which made the gifts this time seem extra special!)
As I conclude today’s post, my prayer for each reader is that you will sense the gracious goodness of God in whatever place you are right now…