Who Gets Your Grace?
God has extended grace to us. As Christians, we are well aware of that. And as Christians, we are to extend grace to others. I’m sure I was well aware of that, too. But until recently, I had not thought about exactly what that phrase means nor what extending grace to someone looks like. Then MichaelEllen told me about her Camp Barnabas experience.
At Barnabas, she and her coworkers have to extend grace to the disabled campers all the time. But they expect to do that. They know the campers’ limitations and are prepared from the outset to accommodate them and to share the campers’ frustrations and quirks. Some of the autistic kids might say inappropriate things or take off running with no provocation. Some of the kids with Down’s Syndrome might be worn out by exertion and want to sit out all the fun activities. Some of the non-verbal campers might have to use a board to communicate and require much patience and time on the worker’s part. Some of the physically disabled might require someone to shower them or feed them. And the Barnabas workers gladly extend them grace, because they know their lives are hard and they want to give them a wonderful week.
To extend grace to your fellow human beings means you grant them the room to be annoying or difficult without judging them or sinning in your reaction to them. At best, you even show them love and compassion. MichaelEllen said she felt like she had unlimited grace and love at Barnabas. It was easy to extend grace to the campers. But as she left camp, God made it clear to her that she didn’t get to pick whom she extended grace to. She had to extend that same grace to people without "disabilities," also. And it wasn't that God wasn't giving her the grace to extend; it's that she didn't want to extend it.
As ME returned to the "normal" world and went on a trip with the youth group, she realized God was saying, "No, you don't get to choose who you love. It's for everyone." Anyone who has been on a trip with a youth group knows it takes grace. There's always at least ONE difficult person and most kids get annoying at some point on a trip. Add sleep deprivation and everyone's behavior will get on your nerves. Kind of like living in a family or being with coworkers all day, isn't it? I am challenged by MichaelEllen's message from God to extend grace to everyone, and I'm passing the challenge on to you.