Victim of Grace: When God's Goodness Prevailsby Robin Jones Gunn
In Victim of Grace, bestselling author Robin Jones Gunn takes a deeply personal look at the mystery of God working in our lives in ways we can't see. No matter what obstacles, heartaches, or difficulties have assailed us, we are not at the mercy of circumstances. We are victims of his grace.See more details below
In Victim of Grace, bestselling author Robin Jones Gunn takes a deeply personal look at the mystery of God working in our lives in ways we can't see. No matter what obstacles, heartaches, or difficulties have assailed us, we are not at the mercy of circumstances. We are victims of his grace.
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- 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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Victim of Grace
When God's Love Prevails
By Robin Jones Gunn
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013Robin's Nest Productions, Inc.
All rights reserved.
FREE FALL TO FULL CIRCLE
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.
—Psalm 138:8 ESV
On a quiet summer afternoon, I handed my friend Steph a glass of iced tea and offered a sympathetic smile before taking a seat beside her on the white wicker patio chair. A rousing Maui trade wind skimmed over us and rustled the outstretched limbs of our backyard plumeria tree. A single flower on the highest branch surrendered to the tug of the unseen breeze. Nudged by another breath, the flower fluttered to the ground with airy elegance.
"Waiting is the hardest part," Steph said. "It's been eleven days and still no word. I'm stuck. I don't know if we should plan a move back to the mainland or if I should start buying school supplies since classes here start next week."
I didn't know what to tell her. I'd been in similar situations more than once in my life and I felt her frustration. No winning words of encouragement came to me.
"It's beginning to feel like a test," she said. "As if God wants to see if I completely trust him no matter what. I wish he would tell me the answer but ..."
I finished the sentence for her with a line that was familiar to both of us. "But the teacher is always silent during the test."
I released the thin pineapple wedge that balanced on the side of my glass and watched it float between the ice cubes. "I'm really sorry you're going through this, Steph."
"Thanks. I guess that's why I came over. I needed the 'tea and sympathy.' "
I smiled and noticed another plumeria flower being tugged from the tree by invisible fingers that sent it into a free fall. The fragrant offering landed softly on the grass. Later that afternoon, I would collect the scattered beauties and string them together to make a unique gift, a homemade lei to welcome someone special who was arriving on the island at sunset.
"You're in a free fall, aren't you?" I suggested.
"Is that what it is? I was thinking it feels more like I'm a victim."
"Yes. A victim of all the uncomfortable circumstances going on. I have no control over what's happening. Everyone else seems to be making the decisions about our future." She leaned back and gave a sigh. "I know God is in control. But I still feel like a victim."
We sat together in silence for a moment. I leaned closer. "May I tell you a story? A true story?"
Steph knows me well, so my question made her grin. "It's what you do," she said. "Yes. Please. Tell me a story."
"Two days after our son's thirteenth birthday, I walked into a building in downtown Portland in broad daylight. I was taken into a back room where all my clothes were removed. A man wearing a mask knocked me out. While I was unconscious, another masked man thrust a knife into my abdomen. Twice."
Steph's jaw went slack.
"When I finally came to, I was in a hospital bed with dozens of sutures holding my midriff together. I had done nothing to deserve what happened to me."
"I never heard this before! I can't believe it. Why would anyone do that to you?"
I tried to keep my expression steady as I gave her the bigger picture of the traumatic experience. "The building I walked into was a hospital. Providence Medical Center, to be exact. The man who rendered me unconscious was an anesthesiologist."
"The masked man with the knife was a surgeon. He removed several diseased masses and repaired my bile duct. I have a nine-inch scar right here." I traced a diagonal line across my torso. "And another six-inch scar here."
Steph narrowed her eyes. She looked like she might throw something at me. "Why didn't you just say you had your gallbladder removed?"
I laughed. "Because the experience sounds so different when you don't know the final outcome ahead of time. That's what you're going through right now; lots of painful steps without knowing the final punch line. When I only told you the painful facts of my experience, it seemed as though I were a victim of an act of violence."
"It certainly did. But, obviously, the big picture is that the surgery was for your good. You're still alive."
"Yes, I am." I drew my shoulders back and smiled. "I'm still here, twenty years later. So, I guess you could say that it's true: I was a victim. I was a victim of grace."
Steph put her glass of plantation tea on the end table. Our voices lowered as we talked about the mysterious ways of God, his timing, and the challenge of seeing more than just the circumstances in our life experiences. We reminded each other of times in our lives when God accomplished his purposes in us and through us even though we couldn't see the big picture and didn't understand the difficult things we were going through.
As Steph stood to leave, she said, "I wish more people would tell the uncomfortable parts of their story instead of just the punch line. We need to know we're not alone in the process, especially when it's painful."
We walked together to her car, gave each other a hug, and I returned to the backyard where I went about gathering plumerias, selecting just the right ones for the lei. I thought of how the lovely flowers had ended up on the grass after their free fall. All that beauty scattered at my feet, ready to be collected. Before me were dozens of delicate, uncomplaining victims of the unseen hand that had plucked them from the tree.
As I strung the flowers on the long lei needle, Steph's earlier comment about how we need to know we're not alone echoed in my thoughts. She had said she wished more people would tell the uncomfortable parts of their stories. We need to see the big picture and not just the punch line.
It occurred to me that that was what God did when he recorded the true tales of many of the women in the Bible. He didn't airbrush their lives or make excuses for their choices. He showed them as they were. Real. Human. Flawed. And also deeply loved by the one who fashioned them by hand and knew them by heart. Their stories are scattered throughout Scripture, ready to be gathered up. I wondered how many of them could see the big picture when they were in the midst of their own difficult experience.
The scent of afternoon rain breezed my way. I could smell the rain before I could see the misty drops. As I watched, the fluid grace gently covered, nourished, cleansed, and restored everything within view.
My thoughts ran to a deep place. I considered how there is nothing I can do, nothing to make the rain fall or the wind blow. Unprovoked by any act on my part, God gives me breath. He opens his hand and gives and gives and gives. I don't control his faithfulness. I don't initiate his mercy. I can do nothing to earn his kindness. I don't deserve his gifts.
The truth is, I am powerless to stop his love for me.
I did nothing to activate his goodness toward me. I am incapable of deflecting the endless showers of blessings that come from his storehouses and rain over my life. It's all grace. Grace upon grace. God's extravagant grace.
Indeed, I am a victim of grace.
And so are you.
Returning to the fresh flowers cradled in my lap, I finished stringing the lei and tied the two ends together. I thought about how God gifted me to tell stories. In recent years I've been invited to speak around the world, and at each event, I'm asked to tell stories. I have stood before thousands and told true stories of how God manifests his unmerited favor in the lives of ordinary women.
Drawing in the fragrance of the lei in my hands, I wondered what it would look like if I gathered up my free
Excerpted from Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn. Copyright © 2013 by Robin's Nest Productions, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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